Regulators urged an exam board to alter its GCSE English grade boundaries just two weeks before the results were published, it was revealed today.
Leaked letters show the regulator Ofqual wrote to exam board Edexcel amid concerns that there would be a rise in C grades, calling on them to act quickly to produce results that were closer to predictions for the subject.
The board responded a day later saying it believed its proposed grade awards were “fair” and there was no justification for further changes.
As details of the letters were revealed, Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey faced a call to resign.
John Townsley, a Leeds headteacher and former Ofqual board member, said that Ms Stacey’s position had become “untenable”.
The correspondence, seen by the Times Educational Supplement (TES), is the latest twist in the GCSE English fiasco.
Mr Townsley, head of the Morley and Farnley academies, told the TES: “We can see, in the most certain terms possible, Ofqual applying immense pressure to the awarding body concerned in order to bring down the number of C grades awarded.”
Coun Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services at Leeds City Council, said: “I am appalled by these shocking revelations. Here in Leeds we have always been convinced that this year a significant number of young people had been the victims of a great injustice – and this news would appear to show that we were right.
“As a matter of urgency Ofqual must be instructed to ensure the re-grading of all of June’s GCSE English results in line with grade boundaries used in January.”
An Ofqual spokesman said it was the regulator’s job to “make sure standards are right”.
“The exam board made the final decision on the grade boundaries,” he added.
An Edexcel spokeswoman said: “As this correspondence shows, Edexcel made certain reservations clear to Ofqual, in the interests of maintaining standards.
“Our final award, which we believe was fair to all learners, followed specific requests from Ofqual to help them to do that on a national basis across all exam boards.”