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Schools demand 'unfair' English GCSEs are remarked

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Thousands of pupils are thought to be affected in the row over grade boundaries as headteachers believe a shift in the pass threshold half-way through the school term in January meant pupils were too harshly marked.
Many pupils had not achieved an expected C grade, putting university places and futures in jeopardy.
St Bartholomew’s School, Park House School, and St Gabriel’s School in Newbury, Kennet School in Thatcham, John O’Gaunt Community Technology in Hungerford The Downs School in Compton and Little Heath School in Tilehurst, have all logged complaints over English results and begun to press for action, with more local schools expected to follow.
West Berkshire Council’s education spokeswoman Irene Neill (Con, Aldermaston) said the authority would consider writing to the Government for an explanation over why the changes were made.
“I would like to see the pass mark being higher and maintained at the same level from year to year so that the schools and the pupils fully understand what they are aiming for,” she said.
At St Bartholomew’s School, headteacher Christina Haddrell said changes to the C grade boundary were “inexplicable and unfair” and that the school had requested re-moderation of coursework.
“We are very concerned that a number of our students have not been awarded the grades which reflect their achievement in the English GCSE,” she added.
Concern grew throughout results day and it later emerged that for the first time in 24 years there had been a nationwide drop in the proportion of GCSEs awarded an A*-C grade across all subjects.
The headteacher of Park House, Derek Peaple, said a “significant” issue had been identified with English early on and a formal review was requested.
“This was especially surprising as English has always been a very strong and consistently high performing subject area at GCSE, and also an equally accurate predictor of performance through regular tracking.”
“I also contacted the Association of Secondary Headteachers as they always request feedback on results when schools feel that there may be issues. I think it is very significant that this is the first time that I have ever felt it necessary to do so.”
St Gabriel’s principal Alun Jones, who is also the chairman of the Girls Schools Association, added that there were serious concerns in girl’s schools across the country that grades were artificially down.
“We are in exactly the same boat as everyone else; English GCSE, particularly literature were extremely out of kilter with the rest of the girls’ results and we are taking the matter further,” he said.
The assistant headteacher at Little Heath School, Tilehurst, Steve Rayner, said the priority was to support pupils and that the school would not let the matter drop.
“It is a shame that a number of students have achieved excellent results across the board, with English GCSE being the only exception,” he said.
A statement released by the Department for Education said the independent exams regulator Ofqual was meeting with exam boards and unions this week to discuss the concerns raised.

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