Education bosses’ fears over ‘changes’ to GCSE results

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EDUCATION bosses in Leeds have revealed their fears over possible boundary changes to GCSE examinations this year.

They say predictions show that GCSE exam results could be lower than last year because of suggested grade changes to maths and science results.

But education chiefs in Leeds have warned they would be willing to launch another judicial review if their fears come to fruition.

The news comes just one year after pupils in schools in Leeds missed out on vital GCSE English marks last year because the grade boundaries were changed between January and the summer.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services, said: “Last year’s fiasco, which saw pupils unfairly penalised due to mid-year grade boundary changes, was incredibly distressing for all those involved – and I would hate to see a similar situation this year.

“That is why I am so concerned at suggestions that maths and science grades could be affected, alongside English grades, as a result of similar grade boundary changes this year.

“If that situation does occur we will be speaking with consortium members who campaigned against the changes and supported the judicial review last year to ensure we are prepared should we need to instigate action again.”

Last year Leeds City Council was forced to mount an unprecedented legal challenge after schools claimed that their students’ work had been unfairly marked.

Coun Blake added: “Many of our young people are nervously awaiting this month’s exam results after many months of hard work and study.

“We know just how much those results mean to pupils and their families, as well as the staff that teach them.

“Ultimately, we just want to see our young students get the grades they deserve.”

Exam regulator Ofqual has acknowledged it is expecting a “small drop in achievement” in GCSE science subjects this year, following changes to the courses.

The qualifications were toughened up in the wake of an Ofqual report in 2009 that found the courses were too easy.

The standard of the qualifications is more challenging this year than last, Ofqual said.

Ms Stacey said: “We are expecting a small drop in achievement, that means that the level of demand in the specification is a bit higher, the assessment should be better, therefore a student needs to be well taught and well prepared to do well in that.

“So we are expecting a small drop in achievement.”

English challenge

A row erupted last year over the marking of English GCSEs.

Leeds City Council spearheaded a failed court action in an attempt to get papers regraded.

Last summer’s GCSEs results sparked an unprecedented legal challenge after schools claimed thousands of pupils’ English work had been marked unfairly by exam boards shifting the grade boundaries.

A High Court judge ruled that while teenagers were treated unfairly, the exam boards and Ofqual did not act unlawfully.

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