Angry heads look to have GCSE exams re-marked
A Bath head teacher has blasted the English GCSE grade boundary changes which he says have left his pupils unable to get on to college courses.
Raymond Friel, who is the executive head teacher at St Gregory's Catholic College, in Odd Down, and St Mark's CE School, in Larkhall, is preparing to send back up to 30 papers to be re-marked.
After the publication of the results, last month, there was a national storm of protest after exams regulator Ofqual held a short inquiry into the issue, and admitted that grade boundaries had changed partway through the year, but refused to order any re-grading.
The changes have meant that a pupil who sat the exam in January would have needed fewer marks to get a C grade than one who took the same paper this summer.
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Andrew Davies, head teacher at Beechen Cliff School, is also concerned about this year's English results and was looking into whether they could be re-marked.
Mr Friel said he and his staff had to witness the very human cost of the changes and said the affair had been "completely unacceptable".
He said: "We have very serious concerns at St Gregory's over the GCSE English results. Our English GCSE pass rate has been consistently above 80 per cent, but this year, with the same committed teachers and similarly motivated students, we achieved 70 per cent.
"We were completely at a loss to explain this until it emerged that across the country hundreds of schools had the same experience.
"It now seems as if some of the major exam boards changed the C/D grade boundaries mid-year which is completely unacceptable.
"Two weeks ago we saw the human cost of this with distraught parents and students contacting us to say they were having difficulty getting on to their preferred college and sixth form courses because of lower than expected English results."
Mr Friel added that he was concerned that parents looking at secondary schools for their children next year would be misled by the fact that different schools took the qualifications with different exam boards.
"It also affected our 'headline' figure of five or more A* to C passes including English and maths," he said.
"We were predicting at least 70 per cent and ended up with 64 per cent.
"I would advise parents who are looking at schools to be very careful and get behind the exam results.
"In the meantime, if nothing is done at a national level about these results, we will be submitting a substantial number of papers for re-marking."
"At Beechen Cliff, a sample of 16 papers has been sent back to the exam board and if more than half of them are deemed to have been marked incorrectly, then all the papers will be re-marked.
Mr Davies said: "We certainly felt that our English results weren't as strong as we anticipated, based on our professional judgment and on our previous history.
"These are grades that sit with you for life and I think that is one of the things that nationally has been forgotten, that these are children's lives and they are affected by this."