Bury St Edmunds: Chief executive of Ofqual visits King Edward VI School

Ofqual Chief Executive Glenys Stacey visits King Edward VI School to discuss last years "English fi

Ofqual Chief Executive Glenys Stacey visits King Edward VI School to discuss last years "English fiasco" and to talk about the way forward with school examinations. Glenys is pictued with headteacher Geoff Barton. - Credit: Archant

A HEADTEACHER who heavily criticised an exams regulator regarding last year’s “English fiasco” has described a visit by its chief executive as “really helpful” and “illuminating”.

Ofqual chief executive Glenys Stacey visited King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds yesterday to talk about the way forward with school examinations.

Geoff Barton, headteacher of King Edward VI School, said he had been a “vociferous and public critic” of Ofqual last year, and appreciated Ms Stacey approaching the school about visiting.

In February Mr Barton described his disappointment for students after a High Court Judge cleared Ofqual and the exam boards at the centre of the GCSE grade change row of acting unlawfully.

But Lord Justice Elias, sitting with Mrs Justice Sharp, did rule teenagers who fell foul of changes to GCSE English were treated unfairly.

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Yesterday, Ms Stacey met with students, subject leaders and the examinations team at King Edward VI School.

Mr Barton said: “I was surprised to hear from Glenys the request to visit and I’m hugely appreciative of an opportunity to talk face to face and it’s certainly illuminated a lot of what happened last year and reassured me about Ofqual’s independence.

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“But secondly, [I’m appreciative of] the opportunity to talk about what the new qualifications might be like to help teachers to teach and children to learn.”

He added: “And there’s an extraordinary opportunity now for the teaching profession to be able to shape what the new qualifications are.”

Ms Stacey said: “It’s always important we get out to see schools and to talk, but most importantly to listen to what heads and teachers have to say about what works and what doesn’t, how qualifications play out in practice. The more I can do that the better.

“I know Geoff’s very experienced and I was very keen to see his school and speak to him.”

Speaking of the variations in GCSE English results last year, she said: “It was a difficult time for schools. It was a difficult time for all.”

She said yesterday they also discussed some of the steps being taken to make the current qualifications “more resilient” and to prevent these sorts of variations in grades and marks.

Regarding GCSE English, she said a couple of things had already happened, for example students’ assessment work or examinations in January had been marked, but not graded.

The reason for this, she said, was some of the expectations last year were set by January grade boundaries with the assumption that would be applied in June which was not the case.

On Thursday, Ofqual launched a consultation on changes to GCSE English and English language in order to help protect against the problems experienced last year.

Ms Stacey, who described the discussions at King Edward VI School as “fruitful”, said she was looking forward to returning there for a longer visit to see how the school does “such a lot” for its pupils.

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