UK: Head ‘disappointed’ after GCSE grades bid fails

King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds is the latest to be targeted by computer thieves

King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds is the latest to be targeted by computer thieves - Credit: Archant

THE head of one of Suffolk’s top secondary schools has said he is “disappointed for students” after a High Court judge cleared the exam boards at the centre the GCSE grade change row.

Lord Justice Elias, sitting with Mrs Justice Sharp, ruled that teenagers who fell foul of changes to GCSE English were treated unfairly - but exam boards and regulator Ofqual did not act unlawfully.

An alliance of hundreds of pupils and schools and scores of local councils, as well as teaching unions, lost their unprecedented legal challenge over the grades.

The alliance accused the AQA and Edexcel exam boards of unfairly pushing up the grade boundaries for English last summer in what amounted to “illegitimate grade manipulation” and “a statistical fix” involving exams regulator Ofqual.

Geoff Barton, head at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, had been involved in the efforts and had spoken out over the issue.

He said: “I’m disappointed for all those students who got a D last June when had they sat the exam in January they would have got a grade higher.

“It seems to me extraordinary that the judges have agreed that some students were unfairly graded, but have not agreed that something should have been done about a woeful situation. English teachers are going to find it hard to advise current students on what to do to get a C - it’s a decision, it seems, that resides in back-offices of faceless bureaucrats.

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“English teachers and school leaders have fought a superb campaign to keep this issue alive, and their leadership and integrity have been an inspiration. I’m just sorry that justice hasn’t been seen to be done.”

Lord Justice Elias said Ofqual had appreciated there were features which had operated unfairly and proposed numerous changes for the future designed to ensure problems that had arisen would not be repeated.

The judge said: “However, having now reviewed the evidence in detail, I am satisfied that it was indeed the structure of the qualification itself which is the source of such unfairness as has been demonstrated in this case, and not any unlawful action by either Ofqual or the AOs (exam boards).”

In his ruling, the judge said that more than 150 claimants had taken part in the action, sharing a “widespread and deeply held grievance” over the way the C and D grade boundaries had been fixed in 2012, and controlled assessments - a new type of coursework completed in the classroom - had been assessed.

Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey welcomed the decision, saying it was clear from the ruling that if they had acted in the way called for by the alliance, the value of GCSE English would have been “debased”.

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