Leighton Andrews under fire for 'irresponsible' GCSE English regrade demand
Education Secretary Michael Gove has blasted Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews after he ordered exam board WJEC to remark GCSE English exams.
Mr Andrews asked the WJEC to carry out the re-grade following a Welsh Government review after thousands of students were awarded lower than expected grades in August.
Giving evidence to the Commons Education Committee today, Mr Gove ruled out ordering an independent inquiry into the grading fiasco and called on Mr Andrews to “think again,” saying he had made a “regrettable political intervention”.
“The other thing I would say in respect of Wales is that I believe that the children who have been disadvantaged are children in Wales,” Mr Gove said.
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“I think the decision by the Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews is irresponsible and mistaken and I think that he has undermined confidence in Welsh children’s GCSEs.”
At the hearing, Mr Gove admitted the crisis in England shows the need for reform.
“What happened with GCSE this year caused understandable concern for parents, teachers and students and I think it’s appropriate we examine what’s happened in a sober fashion and also in a rigorously analytical way.
“I think there are certain lessons to be learned which encourage me to believe that we need to reform qualifications.”
The Education Secretary ruled out instructing Ofqual to regrade papers from June which he said would "destroy the independence of the regulator."
He said that the difficulty was that the same exam, set by the same board was taken by children in England and Wales, with Welsh children performing “appreciably worse.”
“That reinforces what every international survey shows, which is that children in Wales have suffered as a result of education policies put forward by Labour politicians, which have abolished league tables, ended the objective assessment of children at the end of Key Stage 2 and ensured that there is less rigour in the approach towards education.
“Now, finding himself in a fix, and his education system in the dock, the Labour politician has attempted to shift blame.
“I think that’s irresponsible and the children who suffer are the children from Wales who, when they apply for a job in England, will hand over certificates which profess to be good passes and English employers will now say, ’I fear, through no fault of your own, I’m sure you’re the right person to be employed, I fear that I cannot count your exam pass as equivalent to this other exam pass’, and I think to have made the decision he did with the speed that he did, without appropriate consultation with Ofqual, was irresponsible and children in Wales will suffer.”