Goalposts moved with no warning

HEADTEACHERS and parents are rightly very concerned about the grades awarded to students following this year’s GCSE English examinations.

The data our secondary schools and academies have passed to the county council, particularly about the English and maths GCSEs, is very consistent and shows:

Individual schools across Suffolk have seen significant falls in results depending on the month in which the students were assessed.

The greatest inconsistency is the boundary between grade C and D.

For a significant proportion of students, the final grade they achieved was less dependent on the quality of their work and more on which exam board and when students sat the exam.

The issue is clearly not about the quality of marking but about the change made to the grade boundaries.

A major concern expressed to us by all of the schools and parents is the impact of these inconsistencies on the young people of Suffolk. We have had many examples of students who were expected to get C grades who are now unable to access the next stage of their education or training or are having difficulties securing offers of employment.

From the evidence we have, it seems clear that the goalposts have been moved without warning and this has undermined the credibility of the entire examination system with students, employers, parents, schools and further education institutions. It is unprecedented for the grade boundaries to have been changed so significantly mid-year without any prior notification to students or their teachers

If there is a perceived need to raise the standard of a GCSE pass, surely this needs to be done more consistently across the various examination boards, and in the full knowledge of students and teachers at the start of the course.

GRAHAM NEWMAN

Cabinet member for education and young people

Suffolk County Council