Leeds head teacher warning over GCSE results

Boston Spa School head teacher Christopher Walsh.
Boston Spa School head teacher Christopher Walsh.
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A head teacher has warned that a controversial system for grading exams could mean that GCSE results will not fall even if standards in schools decline.

Schools across the city are awaiting tomorrow’s (Aug 21) GCSE results amid uncertainty over how exam reforms will affect them.

However Christopher Walsh the head of Boston Spa School has said the system being used by the exam regulator Ofqual could mean that the overall pass rates remain similar to previous years “regardless of the quality of the work.”

Ofqual has warned schools there is likely to be “variability” in grades this summer because of the significant changes to GCSEs.

A move to end-of-course exams, rather than exams throughout, more students taking international GCSEs, cuts to re-sits, and a decision by Government that only a youngster’s first attempt at a GCSE will count in school league tables are all likely to affect this year’s results, the regulator said.

There have been warnings that the overall effect could be a drop in grades. But Christopher Walsh, the head of Boston Spa School said he was not sure this would be the case because of Ofqual’s comparable outcomes approach. He said: “This year I think teachers are expecting the unexpected. We have got to the point now where nothing would surprise me.”

Ofqual’s comparable outcomes approach aims to ensure that if the ability of different year groups is similar then the exam results achieved by them is similar. It uses the past achievement of pupils to predict what they should be achieving.

However Mr Walsh says this approach has rationed the number of each grade available. He added: “The system is designed to deliver the results that are expected but my concern is that it will not recognise genuine improvements or equally if standards got worse.”

School leaders, teachers, governors and MPs from across the region will meet today for a summit that will see delegates discuss academisation and the impact real-terms cuts to funding is having on schools.

Yorkshire school leaders meet in Leeds to discuss academies and education cuts