Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews calls for GCSE regrading
Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews has called on officials to regrade English GCSE papers following a Welsh Government review.
A row broke out last month after it emerged grade boundaries for those taking their English language and literature exams had changed between January and June.
The exam regulator for England Ofqual has refused to order exam boards to regrade papers, and while UK Education Secretary Michael Gove admitted pupils had been treated unfairly, he would not intervene in the matter.
But Mr Andrews has asked the WJEC exam board to regrade papers – and can order it to act if his request is not met.
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“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," he said.
"Therefore, whilst 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 in line with the report’s recommendations.
“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. Regulatory officials have identified the problems, and recommended actions. I have implemented their recommendations.
The Minister has also announced that the November re-sit opportunities already announced by Ofqual should also be available to candidates from Wales.
A Welsh Government spokesman said several hundred candidates are expected to be awarded higher grades.
The percentage of pupils from Wales gaining an A* to C in GCSE English Language fell from 61.3% in 2011 to 57.4% this year.
Teaching union NUT Cymru welcomed the Welsh Government’s move.
Secretary David Evans said: “The report published today by the Welsh Government recognises the injustice of the boundary grade changes and their impact on Welsh students.
“Hundreds of Welsh learners have been disadvantaged by this change and we applaud the Welsh Education Minister for taking the action which he has today.”
A spokesman for the WJEC said Ofqual and the Welsh Government work jointly on a range of regulatory matters which relate to the examination awarding process in England and Wales.
"For example, in 2012 these regulators jointly required WJEC to make our GCSE English Language awards more severe at grade C than we had proposed, by asking for changes to some of our grade boundaries.
A WJEC spokesman added: "Given that the regulators have worked jointly on all matters to date relating to WJEC's GCSE English Language awards, it is helpful that the Minister's statement indicates that discussions "will continue" with Ofqual on the results of WJEC English Language candidates.
"We look forward to further urgent discussions with both regulators in order to be clear about the direction we should now take."
It was revealed today that Ofqual urged exam board Edexcel to alter its GCSE English grade boundaries just two weeks before the results were published.
Letters leaked to the Times Educational Supplement (TES) show the exam regulator called on Edexcel to act quickly to produce results that were closer to predictions for the subject.
“This may require you to move grade boundary marks further than might normally be required,” Ofqual’s director of standards Dennis Opposs wrote.
The board responded a day later saying it believed its proposed grade awards were “fair” and there was no justification for further changes.
Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey faced a call to resign today, as details of the letters were revealed.
Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey is giving evidence to the Commons education select committee on this summer’s GCSE English grading crisis today.