EDUCATION bosses are to investigate a set of “turbulent” GCSE results which have seen some Leeds schools suffer sharp drops in their marks amid fears some pupils have been unfairly denied good grades.
It is believed several schools in the city have seen the numbers of pupils achieving the benchmark of five good GCSEs including English and maths plummet by ten per cent while others have enjoyed big increases.
Overall, Leeds pupils have bucked the national trend with the number of pupils achieving the five A* to C figure including the two core subjects increasing by 2.5 per cent while grades nationally have fallen for a second time.
However, Coun Judith Blake, the council’s executive member for learning, voiced concerns that pupils will have “unfairly” missed out on C grades in core subjects because of the way grade boundaries have been set.
“The joy at the city’s achievement is tempered by the fact that we feel there are pupils out there who have again been unfairly denied a C grade.
“There is a lot of turbulence in these results. Some schools are down ten per cent others are up 15 per cent. We will be doing a full analysis of these results to understand why.”
She said the overall increase in five A* to C grades “hid the issues that were created last year” over the marking of English GCSEs . A row broke out over the way exam boards moved the grade boundaries between January and June which meant the same standard of work could get a different grade depending on when it was marked. Leeds City Council was part of a failed legal challenge which attempted to get exams remarked using the January 2012 grade boundary.
Now Coun Blake has voiced fears that attempts set the grade boundaries in a way which prevents grades rising again this year could be creating strange results in the city’s schools.
An Ofqual spokesman said: “Grade boundaries are set after each assessment, based on the level of difficulty and the performance of the students. It is usual for different grade boundaries to be set for different exam series in order to maintain consistent standards. This year in GCSE English, the grade boundaries for January and June assessments were both set in the summer, to avoid some of the issues seen last summer when the differences between the two were larger than expected.”