english grades suffer boundary change

simon jones
simon jones

DRIFFIELD School is calling for a large number of English GCSE exam papers to be re-marked after several dozen students received lower than predicted grades.

Driffield is among schools across the country which are challenging an examination board over changes in grade boundaries which led to almost 9,000 fewer grades A* to C in English this year

Simon Jones, head teacher at Driffield School and sixth form, said: “For a number of years now, the students at Driffield have achieved consistently good to outstanding GCSE results in both English Language and Literature.

“The Department has a track record for academic excellence and we are devastated that so many of our students have received one or more grades below our predictions.

“The A*to C percentage in both English exams has dropped by approximately 20% which is unprecedented and totally unexpected.

Mr Jones said: “We have reassured all of our students that we will be taking the matter further with the exam board and doing all we can to fight for the grades they deserved.

“Clearly this is a national issue and I know that many schools have been hit hard.

“However, it cannot be right if students are penalised simply due to the timing of the exam they sat, with candidates entered in January for the same exam being marked against a lower set of standards and therefore achieving higher grades.

Mr Jones explained: “Such ‘in year’ variation totally undermines the exam system, is fundamentally unfair and fails a generation of young people.

“Ironically, at Driffield the results this year outside of English were some of the best we’ve ever had and we should have been looking at a 5 or more A*-C including English and Maths of approaching 70%.

“Instead, if the results stand, we will be looking at a 12% drop from last year down to 53%. This is not an argument about grade inflation and ever rising outcomes at GCSE - this is about a change to grade boundaries in English during the year that has disadvataged at least 60 of our students who ended up with D grades that previously would have merited a C.”

Mr Jones said: “We expect our results to go up as a result of the re-marked papers.

“We have some very impressive results in our GCSEs this year and the English marking by this exam board have let our students down, we look forward to this being put right in the future.”

Despite the shock marking-down of English exam papers, Driffield School and Sixth Form GCSE students achieved results to match last year’s record breaking achievement, with 86 per cent of students attaining five or more GCSEs at grade A* to C.

The success was mirrored by schools in the East Riding which improved performance against all GCSE measures, with a three per cent increase to 59 per cent of students achieving the gold standard of five or more A* to C grades.

John Seaman, principal adviser at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “We are proud of schools’ continuing improvement in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

“We are very supportive of those schools who have been badly hit by the problems with one English examination board.

“Along with many Yorkshire and Humber local authorities and others across the country, we will support an investigation into what happened and are confident that remarked papers will go a long way towards redressing the issue.”

Angela Michalska, director of children, family and adult services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “We are proud of the work done by young people throughout the East Riding, with the support of their carers and families.

“The national concern around the English mark is extremely worrying and wish our schools well in challenging the results for their pupils.”

An estimated 10,000 students across England and Wales have been affected, and Ofqual, the UK’s exams watchdog, is set to meet with exam boards to examine the concerns raised.

*See also page 4.