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Changes in the marking system could affect students for years to come
A HEADTEACHER has pledged to keep pressure on Ofqual over changes to GCSE English grade boundaries and is urging parents to do the same.
Sean Devlin, head at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College, said this summer’s fiasco could affect students for years to come, damaging their applications to university and employment prospects.
Mr Devlin was commenting in a letter sent to parents of former Year 11 pupils who are among the thousands of students across the country affected by differences between the way GCSE English papers assessed by exam board AQA were marked in January and June.
His call comes as schools, academies and teaching unions unite nationally to demand an independent inquiry into the issue.
Mr Devlin said: “Our students and children have suffered. They are being penalised in terms of selection onto courses and life chances. In the examinations in our college in every subject all except English students maintained or improved on the excellent performance of last year.
“My concern is that there is not sufficient emphasis and awareness of how this affects our Year 11 students and others across the county. It affects all students including A* and G grade students. They may all have received one grade lower than those students who were assessed in Year 10 and in the spring term of Year 11.
“This not only affects students’ enrolment in Year 11 on many courses but will affect their university options and selections two years further down the line.
“Publicly it has been stated that AQA will offer a free re-sit in November. How will that help our students who are not at Blessed Edward Oldcorne? How will a re-sit in the written examination help when the problem lies with the grade boundaries in the two controlled assessments?”
Mr Devlin added it was important the issue was not “brushed under the carpet” and called on parents to write to their MPs and Worcestershire County Council.
On Friday, Worcester MP Robin Walker gave assurances the issue was being taken “very seriously”.
He said: “This came up at education questions on Monday and the view expressed by ministers is it’s a matter of concern but it’s something Ofqual has to look into as the body responsible.
“I have heard from a lot of headteachers about their concerns and I have raised this with the Department for Education and written to the relevant ministers, but I’m yet to have a reply.”
Worcestershire County Council, meanwhile, has confirmed it is working with headteachers to decide upon an “appropriate response” to Ofqual, together with the cabinet member for education and skills, Councillor Jane Potter.