Council backing GCSE legal challenge

emailed pictures, Town ward candidate Labour - press release. Megan Swift pictured.
emailed pictures, Town ward candidate Labour - press release. Megan Swift pictured.
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Calderdale Council is backing two of our schools’ legal challenge over this summer’s GCSE marking debacle which a Halifax MP has labelled “appalling”.

Some pupils who sat their GCSEs in June were given lower grades than pupils that achieved the same score in the January exams.

Anthony Smith, executive headteacher at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe, said: “We are hoping there is a reapplication of the original grade boundaries that would make it far fairer for all schools involved.”

The group has issued a formal letter to Ofqual, AQA and Edexcel notifying them of the legal challenge and asking them to regrade June’s GCSE English exams in line with those taken in January.

The issue arose when exam boards changed the grade boundaries between grades C and D by 10 marks between the January 2012 and June 2012 exams. This degree of change is unprecedented and was undertaken without informing schools.

The change means that thousands of students sitting exams in June 2012 have been awarded a D grade, when the same mark would have achieved a C grade in January 2012.

Mr Smith said that around 40 pupils from his school were on the C/D grade boundary and were consequently affected by the change in boundaries.

Calderdale Council’s Lead Member for Children’s Services, Coun Megan Swift, said: “It is vital that we seek redress on behalf of Calderdale’s young people who have been so unfairly disadvantaged by the changes to grade boundaries. Because of this change some students will have missed out on courses they wanted to do.

“Schools weren’t informed, therefore students weren’t given the opportunity to take action to try to improve their marks or alter their plans for further education. These grades may affect their opportunities for college and university places and employment in the future.

“The students have been unfairly disadvantaged due to an administrative procedure and through no fault of their own.”

Halifax MP Linda Riordan said: “I am pleased that the Council is taking this action. This is about fairness. The exam boards and Government have humiliated thousands of young people; they now need to show some humility and restore the correct grades to these hard working students who have been treated appallingly.”

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Life-long Learning, Coun Ashley Evans, added: “We understand that adjustments to grades are often made, but schools will always be informed about this and the changes are minor, eg one or two marks. This year schools were not informed of the change, and a 10 mark adjustment is radical. This meant that schools and students could not take appropriate steps to deal with the change.

“We need immediate regrading of the exams taken in June 2012 to right the wrong done to students, and to avoid putting them through the stress and distraction of resits.”