Posted on 5th September 2012
GCSE Saga Continues
Hundreds of thousands of students are returning to school this week, and it’s the beginning of a grand sparkling new term. School uniforms are clean, complete and fit properly, pencil cases are well stocked and the sticky backed-plastic on books is shiny and untattered. The new academic year always feels like a wonderfully fresh start and it is a great time to think about moving forward in a positive and productive way when it comes to your studies. However, there’s still rather a lot of lingering negativity after the dramatic drop in GCSE English grades.
After being bombarded with criticism and accusations, education secretary Michael Gove has now admitted that he thinks that students were treated unfairly this year, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “My heart goes out to those students who sat the exam this year because I don’t think the exam was designed in the most appropriate way … Everyone who sat the exam was treated in a way that either wasn’t fair or appropriate.”
Despite Gove’s statement, and schools’ demands for all the papers to be remarked, Ofqual has ruled this out. The exam boards’ regulator continues to maintain that the June papers and marks were fair, but that the January papers were given overly generous grades. However, it’s too late to change those now. Glenys Stacey, chief regulator at Ofqual has said, “People were particularly concerned about the June grade boundaries. We have found that examiners acted properly, and set the boundaries using their best professional judgment, taking into account all of the evidence available to them. The June boundaries have been properly set and candidates’ work properly graded. The issue is not the June, but the January boundaries. Most candidates were not sitting at the time, they were waiting for June, and because they were new qualifications examiners could not rely so much on direct comparisons with the past. As a result those grade boundaries were set generously.”
Instead of having their papers from June remarked, pupils will be offered the chance to take special resits in November. However, this decision has not been warmly received. Many pupils need their GCSE results now, and they can’t afford to wait that long for new grades. Revising for the resits will also interrupt their current studies. Most pupils will surely want to move forward with their subjects, and not have to spend time preparing for exams they have already sat for the second time.