Welcome for move to regrade GCSE English exams
SCHOOLS and teaching unions have welcomed the news hundreds of pupils in South West Wales will have their English language GCSE papers regraded.
Education Minister Leighton Andrew asked exam board the WJEC to carry out the re-grade after he said there had been a "serious distortion" in how the papers had been marked. His counterpart at Westminster, UK Education Secretary Michael Gove, has so far refused to intervene.
Headteacher of Llangatwg Community School in Cadoxton, Roger Skilton, said: "We welcome the statement Mr Andrews made. We did feel there was something different about the results this year," he said.
"We were in the process of asking for some of the papers — between eight or 10 — to be remarked out of 150 in total.
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"There were far more Ds than normally expected."
In Swansea, 2,014 pupils sat the English language GCSE this summer. 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.
Dr Andrew Cornish, director of quality, curriculum development, teaching and learning at Coleg Sir Gâr, said: "There have been no acute cases of learners failing to get places on our courses due to recent published issues relating to GCSE English gradings.
"However, any changes to learners' GCSE English grades will be considered appropriately."
Roberto de Benedictis, secretary of the Tawe Afan Nedd division of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said of the regrading: "As far as we are concerned it is the right thing to do.
"The results have been manipulated and the children are being used as political pawns."
A statement from the Welsh Government said Minister for Education and Skills Leighton Andrews had asked regulatory officials on Monday to write to exams body WJEC seeking an undertaking it would re-grade.
It said no such undertaking had been received and as a result the minister had formally issued that direction.
The minister said: "It is not right that hundreds of our learners should have to live with the consequences of having been awarded what, in all likelihood, is the wrong GCSE grade."
A spokesman for the WJEC said: "We find ourselves in a difficult and unexpected position.
"In the summer we acted on joint instructions from regulators to adjust our GCSE English language awards downwards at Grade C, in order to ensure 'comparable outcomes'. We now find one regulator confirming the decision was correct, and another asking us to regrade, reversing the previous joint decision.
"We shall now progress the actions requested, although we are concerned about a number of issues.
"One concern is that the Welsh Government has provided no scope for discussing a reasonable timeline in which to complete the work. Another is that we have received no advice on matters such as certification, which are normally undertaken on a joint regulatory basis."
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