Teachers given chance to see English papers


Teachers will be given the chance to see first-hand what went wrong in January’s English language GCSE papers in Wales when they get a sample of papers.

Exam board WJEC has written to headteachers offering them the opportunity to select up to 10 per cent of candidates whose results are causing the most concern.

Every secondary school in Wales will be sent a taster of their pupils’ GCSE papers free of charge in a bid to ease concerns over January’s English language grades.

The new exam for Wales is at the centre of a “rapid review” by the Welsh government after teachers reported a sharp dip in predicted grades. Some schools have recorded results down by as much as 30 per cent.

The chief executive of the Cardiff-based exam board Gareth Pierce said WJEC had been given “regulatory approval” from the Welsh government to provide the service. He said: “Following recent concerns regarding the January 2014 GCSE English language unit results, we have been given regulatory approval to implement an additional ‘Post-Results Service’ that is not within the standard arrangement for GCSEs.

“Centres are therefore invited to identify up to 10 per cent of candidates for each paper entered, for whom WJEC will provide scanned copies of their scripts free of charge.”

The WJEC has also stated that the provision of the Enquiries About Results (EAR) service will remain available in relation to all candidates for whom scanned scripts are provided.

The gesture by WJEC follows its own marking review which found overall papers were marked correctly by more than 100 examiners. 

In one case it identified slight inconsistencies and ordered that 318 papers be re-marked. This represents less than one per cent of the total. It said only six of 292 comparative centres were affected by the discrepancy. 

In a statement, WJEC said it had found “no sizable disparities” between marking and pupil outcomes and the English language marking scheme had been applied consistently in all but one of the cases reviewed.

The Welsh government’s own review which is still ongoing is studying teaching of the subject, performance of pupils, support and guidance given to teachers and the WJEC’s role in setting the exam, marking it and awarding it.

Education minister Huw Lewis said the review “will get to the bottom of just how this happened and what we and the WJEC can do to support learners and centres both for this summer and beyond.”

He added: “What must not happen is reckless speculation and point-scoring when the future of young people is at stake.”



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