Havering headteachers join forces to demand exam board regrades pupils’ papers

Havering headteachers have joined forces to demand that an exam board regrades students’ papers after they believe they were unfairly marked.

The call for action comes after a row about students being awarded lower grades than expected in August. Heads believe this year’s GCSE English papers were marked unfairly.

Simon London, headteacher of Hall Mead School, and head of the Havering Secondary Headteachers’ Educational Partnership, said the group is calling for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) and the Association of School and College Leaders to look at the grading system again. They are also exploring the possibility of a legal challenge and exposing the flaws of Ofqual’s (the qualifications regulator) response to the issue.

On Friday the group will be meeting with MP Angela Watkinson to ask her to press Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, about the situation, especially after the Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews has insisted Welsh board WJEC regardes papers.

Mr London said: “We do not have any issue with being told that standards are going to be tougher, it is the fact that these boundaries were moved half way through the year without schools being informed and by such a large margin.”

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In an open letter the group said: “Havering secondary schools and our sixth form colleges are justifiably proud of the results their hard-working students achieve. Through effective collaboration, institutional innovation and with the partnership of positive pupils and parents, Havering results consistently out-perform national benchmarks and have shown improvement year on year over recent times as teachers’ and pupils’ efforts have grown in both quality and impact. Therefore, it was with great disappointment and then anger that we greeted this summer’s GCSE English results.

“What followed in the large majority of our schools is a national disgrace. Examination boards chose to move grade boundaries mid-way through an examination series, meaning that in some components, pupils’ marks that would have achieved a high C grade in the January examination series were downgraded to equate to a D grade in the June series.”

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He said many students who believed they had a grade C ended up with a lower grading which potentially missing out on sixth form and college places.

Ofqual said the grade boundaries in June were at the right level, but said there was a problem with the boundaries in January. It has refused to order the exam boards to grade the exams again.

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