Hundreds of Leeds pupils’ English GCSE exams will not be regraded after a High Court rejected an unprecedented legal challenge.
A judge ruled that teenagers who fell foul of changes to GCSE English grade boundaries last year were treated unfairly – but that exam boards AQA and Edexcel and regulator Ofqual did not act unlawfully.
The action had been brought by a national alliance of schools, education authorities and pupils, with Leeds City Council playing a leading role.
Its executive member for children’s services Coun Judith Blake described the decision as “bitterly disappointing” and said the alliance would now consider whether it could appeal.
She warned that thousands of young people’s life chances, including several hundreds in Leeds, would be affected by the decision as it would mean they could miss out on a future place in college, university or an apprenticeship.
The legal challenge had been mounted against the way in which the exam boards had moved grade boundaries between January and June for controlled assessment work making it more difficult to get a C grade.
The alliance had accused the exam boards of unfairly pushing up the boundaries for English last summer in what amounted to “illegitimate grade manipulation” and “a statistical fix” involving exams regulator Ofqual in a bid to stop year-on-year grade inflation.
However, two judges at London’s High Court yesterday (Feb 13) dismissed their call for a judicial review.
Lord Justice Elias said: “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).”