Exam shake up could see English results fall

Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
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GCSE ENGLISH results could plummet under a major grading shake-up being considered by the exams watchdog.

The proportion of teenagers scoring a “pass” in the key subject could drop by more than a quarter under a proposal to make grades comparable across subjects.

But school leaders and teachers have warned that the move would be unfair and could have a “devastating” effect, according to a report in the Times Education Supplement. The proposal, which would see results shifted to allow grades to be compared across subjects - for example chemistry and art, could make it harder to achieve higher grades in subjects seen as “easy” or more “lenient”.

It is one of a series of options being considered for GCSE and A-levels by exams regultor Ofqual. Another option is to keep the current system as it is.

An analysis conducted for Ofqual, based on 2013 results, shows that under this new model, GCSE English - a “lenient” subject - would see results fall from 64 per cent of pupils gaining a C or above to 46 per cent -GCSE German - a “severe” subject would see grades rise from 75 per cent to 86 per cent

Paul Clayton, the director of the National Association for the Teaching of English, said: “Students have always had to work hard for good grades in English; and with the introduction of the new GCSEs this year, they will have to work harder still.

“To move the goalposts yet again, in order to achieve some spurious sense of parity with other subjects, may well have catastrophic effects on student motivation.”

An Ofqual spokeswoman said: “We are continuing with our programme of work into inter-subject comparability which we launched in December 2015.The aim of the programme is to stimulate debate and talk openly about this complex issue.There are no policy announcements at this point”

Any change would be brought in after the move to scrap current A*-G grades and replace it with a 9-1 grading system, with 5 being considered a good “pass”.