Schools appeal over marking of English GCSE exams
SCHOOLS have expressed anger at pupils receiving lower than anticipated English GCSE grades due to last-minute changes to the marking system.
Head teachers say many youngsters were disappointed after being awarded D grades instead of Cs as a result of grade boundary changes.
They claim exam boards raised boundaries halfway through the year amid fears that too many children were going to get a C.
Heads believe pupils on the borderline of C and D grades were worst hit and those who took exams in January stood a better chance of getting a C than those who entered in June. It is thought almost 70,000 UK teenagers had grades marked down.
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Hanham High School head Peggy Farrington said she would launch an appeal after 50 of her pupils received D grades – far more than predicted. Many were awarded Cs or above in other components of their English course – run by exam board AQA – but received U grades in a June exam.
Ms Farrington said: "One paper proved to be a disaster for our pupils. Some pupils who were on course for a B on this exam paper were given an ungraded mark and ended up with a D overall. It's quite bizarre.
"We've got an excellent English department and have been praised by the exam board for the quality of our coursework. When we first saw the results we couldn't believe them – I thought, 'How could our children have bombed in English?'.
At Bristol Metropolitan Academy in Fishponds, 13 candidates expected to achieve Cs ended up with Ds.
David Carter, executive principal of the Cabot Learning Federation, which runs the academy, said they would have received Cs if grade boundaries used in January had remained in place in June. He said the dip in C grades meant only 31 per cent of the academy's pupils reached the benchmark measure of five A*-C grades including English and maths – rather than 45 per cent had the marking system not changed.
Mr Carter said: "All 13 were confident of getting a C and all came within 10 marks of doing so. We've identified the students' papers we'll appeal over and we will pay to have them remarked to get them the rightful grade they deserve."
Peter Fraser, head master at Colston's School in Stapleton, said it was "the biggest corruption of the exam system in a decade".
He said 18 of his students received a D in English, when normally only one or two would do.
Mr Fraser, who has complained to AQA, said boundaries had been moved "significantly" and that the C-D boundary had been "cynically targeted".
He said: "The way these candidates have been treated has been shoddy and the changes have lacked transparency."
After demands for an inquiry, exams regulator Ofqual promised to 'look closely' into the complaints.