Wales orders regrade of GCSE English exams


The Welsh government has demanded a regrade of this year's WJEC English GCSE results after education minister Leighton Andrews said he feared there had been an "injustice".

The Welsh government has demanded a regrade of this year’s WJEC English GCSE results after education minister Leighton Andrews said he feared there had been an “injustice”.

It comes after an official investigation into the results said the methodology for determining the grade boundaries for candidates in Wales “did not deliver comparable outcomes for the 2012 cohort when compared with the 2011”.

It added that some candidates, particularly those close to the C/D boundary, are likely to have been disadvantaged.

A total of 35,331 candidates sat GCSE English language in June 2012 in Wales and 95 per cent of these were with WJEC.

Mr Andrews expects that “several hundred” candidates will be awarded higher grades as a result of the regrade.

The percentage of pupils from Wales gaining an A* to C in GCSE English language fell from 61.3 per cent in 2011 to 57.4 per cent this year.

In a written statement to the Welsh Assembly, Mr Andrews said: “After careful consideration, the report leads me to believe that the apparent injustice which has been served to hundreds of Welsh learners needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Therefore, while recognising that the WJEC made its initial awards in compliance with regulatory requirements, I have today asked the WJEC to re-award its GCSE English language.”

He added: “My officials have suggested to Ofqual that the results of WJEC English language candidates in England should be similarly re-awarded and those discussions will continue. This is a matter for Ofqual. 

“My responsibility is to ensure fairness to the GCSE candidates in Wales.”

In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, the findings of a fresh probe into the GCSE grading row are due to be made public this week.

One in three pupils from the North who studied GCSE English could have been affected by a mid-year change in the boundaries between C and D grades.

Post-primary principals who were unhappy with Ofqual’s examination of the grade changes welcomed the launch of a Northern Ireland specific investigation.

While most secondary pupils sit papers by the North’s exams board – the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) – a significant number opt for English boards instead.

The introduction of a new English syllabus two years ago coincided with about 5,000 entries leaving CCEA for the English boards. About 7,300 of the 22,000 Northern Ireland GCSE English students took AQA papers this year.

The North’s exams regulator is now carrying out his own urgent review into the grading of GCSE English by AQA. CCEA English grades will not form part of the investigation.

Education minister John O’Dowd says he is increasingly concerned at feedback from schools. He added: “It is vitally important that we can all have confidence in the fairness and transparency of the arrangements for marking and grading examinations. I want to make sure therefore that the views of our schools and their students here are appropriately investigated.”


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