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School leaders band together to force Ofqual to accept responsibility for GCSE grading scandal

Teenagers getting GCSE exam results

School leaders’ unions have joined together to disprove claims that over-marking by teachers caused this year’s GCSE grading debacle – and to force Ofqual to take responsibility for the injustice caused to thousands of students.

As the courts confirmed that a judicial review of the affair will now be heard on 18-20 December, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) announced they would be calling on their members to provide evidence to show that schools did not inflate their marking to get pupils higher grades.

Both unions, which represent more than 45,000 school leaders in the UK between them, are already part of an alliance led by Lewisham Council and formed of 150 schools, 42 councils and six professional bodies which is seeking legal redress on behalf of the pupils who were victims of a decision by the examination boards to change grading boundaries mid-year. That decision led to work of the same standard being graded differently by the exam boards, despite the students being in the same cohort.

Last week, NAHT national executive member Kenny Frederick demanded that Ofqual release evidence of its claims that the changes were imposed to correct inflated marking by schools.

Ms Frederick took the step of publishing her school’s report by the examination board’s own moderators which not only verified but praised the school’s marking procedures.

Now, ASCL and the NAHT are asking their members to back Ms Frederick’s call for other heads to follow suit and submit the results of their own moderators’ reports.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT said: “We are all deeply concerned that while the arguments rumble on about who is to blame, the young people whose lives were disrupted this summer by a mess not of their making, are still waiting for justice.

 “Last week, Ofqual suggested that it was correcting a fault caused by teachers, yet there appears to be little, if any, evidence that this was the case. If the exam boards themselves are confirming in their moderator’s reports that teachers’ marks were accurate, perhaps we can close down this particular diversion and get back on track. Ofqual must now accept its responsibility and start working with the profession to ensure immediate restitution for pupils caught up in the saga and to find ways to ensure that a similar mess does not happen again.”

ASCL President Mike Griffiths, Head of Northampton School for Boys, one of the schools pursuing legal action, has already published its moderation report, which states: “The school is to be congratulated on its approach to the new specification and the accuracy of the marks awarded to students.”

Mr Griffiths said: “I’ve been appalled by the attack on the professionalism and integrity of the English teachers in my school and other schools around the country. Ours is a high achieving school with skilled and experienced English teachers who pride themselves on fair and accurate assessment of students’ work. The moderator’s report backs this up, yet the grades were changed in the summer. We’re convinced that this is the same scenario in hundreds of schools around the country. That is why we’re joining with NAHT in encouraging schools to make their reports public.”

The move to publish moderator’s reports has also been endorsed by the UK’s largest teaching union, the NUT, which is also part of the alliance. NUT general secretary, Christine Blower, said: “If publicising such reports helps give the lie to the idea that teachers were to in any way to blame for this year’s GCSE marking fiasco, it might well be helpful. What we need to achieve is a just outcome for the young people who were manifestly badly treated in the summer.”

 

Page Published: 12/11/2012