Schools challenge GCSE marking changes

East Devon secondary school heads condemn changes to English grading boundaries as “perverse” and “unfair”

Secondary school headteachers across East Devon today (Friday) joined a national outcry over GCSE English marks – which have seen results drop 10 per cent.

The changing of English marking boundaries - the marks students require to achieve different grades – was described by the group of 28 Devon schools as “perverse”, “unfair” and “negative”.

They say the changes were made at the end of the year after the conclusion of the course. Children who took early exams in January gained higher grades than those with the same mark who took the exams in June.

The schools represent more than 3,000 students who received their GCSEs yesterday (Thursday). They include Honiton Community College, The Kings School, Ottery St Mary, Sidmouth College, Colyton Grammar and Axe Valley Community College.

Most will be making individual appeals on behalf of students over grades, but said the grade boundaries should be reviewed as a matter of urgency.

They say many students who would have achieved a C grade now have a D. Achieving a C grade for GCSE English is the minimum requirement for many further education and University courses, meaning that thousands of students are having to completely rethink their futures as they cannot move onto the courses they hoped.

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In a joint statement, the head teachers said: “We believe this move by a number of exam boards to move the mark boundaries artificially at the end of the year to be perverse, unfair and to make a complete farce of the marking and assessment process.

“This has many negative outcomes - children are shocked and disappointed by marks which would have seen them pass only six months ago; teachers are left feeling stressed, unsure and angry at the way their hard work can be negated by the apparent whim of politicians and exam boards.

“We accept responsibility for teaching standards, behaviour and quality of resources at our schools, but year after year the biggest variable in results is how the exam board marks and grades the papers.

“This year has seen students taking exams in January receive Cs for marks which gained the students taking them in June Ds. This cannot be fair.

“This change affects the futures of thousands of students – we call for an immediate review of these grade boundaries. We also call on the Government to enter into a constructive dialogue over how to combat ‘grade inflation’ in a way which is positive, planned and brought in over a number of years, not one term.

“We will be appealing these results – but call on the exam boards and the Government to act swiftly and decisively to stop this injustice.”