GCSEs will be regraded for Welsh pupils – Ofqual still refuses to do so in England. Pressure increases for Ofqual head to resign

Janet Downs's picture
The Independent reports that the Welsh education minister, Leighton Andrews, has ordered the WJEC exam board to re-award its GCSE English language grades for around 1,000 students. He said pupils had been the victims of an injustice.

It was revealed yesterday that Ofqual told Edexcel examiners to raise English GCSE grade boundaries just two weeks before results were made public. The examiners had said their marking was fair but were overruled by Ofqual.

John Townsley, executive principal of Morley and Farnley academies in Leeds, called for the head of Ofqual, Glenys Stacey, to resign. He accused her of "bullying" the exam boards.

Pressure is increasing for the 2012 GCSEs to be regraded – a link to a petition is here.

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Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 12/09/2012 - 09:49

The row worsens - the Ofqual head (NB this might be Ofqual chair - the BBC report says chair in its article and head in the analysis) has virtually accused Leighton Andrews, who is also the exam regulator in Wales, of "fiddling" the figures.


Meanwhile, Andrews launched a scathing attack on Twitter against the Ofqual head.

At the same time, Amanda Spielman, Ofqual chair, blamed schools for not being more cautious about their grade predictions.


Spielman obviously hasn't read Ofqual's report into the GCSE exams which said (page 16) that at the time the January exams were marked it was thought the marking was "sound" despite there being limited material to assess. There were even fears that the grading might be too "harsh". It was only in retrospect that the marking was deemed to be too "generous".

Teachers used the January grades as a marking guide but Spielman thinks that teachers are at fault for not guessing in advance where the grade boundaries would fall.


Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 12/09/2012 - 09:53

Letters between Ofqual and Edexcel are available here:


Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 12/09/2012 - 09:56

The Independent reports that the GCSE "fiasco" places more secondary schools at risk of closure or enforced academy conversion.


Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 12/09/2012 - 10:11

Gove has attacked Leighton Andrews as "irresponsible and mistaken" for ordering GCSEs to be regraded. Gove has been giving evidence to the education select committee’s investigation into the GCSE controversy.

Gove rejected an independent inquiry into the disputed grades - but suggested that individual pupils could appeal. He faced accusations that the 2012 GCSE results ran “against natural justice”. Gove said the problems reinforced his view that GCSE needed overhauling and that “modular” exams needed to go.


Gove seems to have forgotten that he announced the phasing out of modules last year. Pupils starting GCSE courses this September will take all their modules at the end of their courses. It’s already known that there will be no more modules after 2014.


Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 12/09/2012 - 12:03

Amanda Spielman's comments were ill-judged. Did she also say that teachers and schools didn't know how to predict student performance accurately? If that is the case it is only because they based their assessments on previous grade boundaries which Ofqual now say were too lenient.

No surprise that her previous job was with the Academy chain ARK which seems to have tentacles everywhere. Looks quite likely that she gets her media briefing from Gove's office - same low grade style and substance and full of blame for others.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 12/09/2012 - 12:38

Now Gove has damaged pupils in Wales who took GCSEs in June by suggesting that regrading their exams will result in employers in England devaluing the qualifications held by Welsh pupils. He blamed Labour policies in Wales for poor performance in Wales which showed up in "every international survey". It's true that pupils in Wales performed below the OECD average in reading and maths in the PISA 2009 tests, and at the OECD average in science. But Welsh pupils didn't take part in the Trends in Maths and Science Survey (TIMMS) or in Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) so "every international survey" then applies only to one: PISA.


Plaid Cymru had already called for a thorough overhaul of the exam system. Perhaps Wales will take note of the exam system in other major countries - a final diploma at age 18 (see FAQs above for details of international exam systems).


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