Alliance may renew legal fight over ‘unfair’ GCSE grading

AN ALLIANCE which included schools, councils and pupils from across Yorkshire has lost an unprecedented legal challenge to get GCSE English exam grades remarked.

The High Court has ruled against an unprecedented legal challenge over GCSE exam grades.

A High Court judge has ruled that teenagers who fell foul of changes to GCSE English grade boundaries last year were treated unfairly – but exam boards and regulator Ofqual did not act unlawfully.

The decision means around 10,000 pupils, who campaigners claimed had been unfairly been denied C grades last summer, will not have their work regraded.

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Leeds City Council’s executive member for children’s services Coun Judith Blake described the decision as “bitterly disappointing” and said the alliance would now consider whether it could appeal. A legal campaign, involving 11 councils and more than 20 schools in the region, had been mounted against the way in which two exam boards, Edexcel and AQA, had moved grade boundaries between January and June for controlled assessment work making it more difficult to get a C grade.

The alliance had accused the exam boards of unfairly pushing up the boundaries for English last summer in what amounted to “illegitimate grade manipulation” and “a statistical fix” involving exams regulator Ofqual in a bid to stop year-on-year grade inflation.

However two judges at London’s High Court yesterday dismissed their call for a judicial review.

Lord Justice Elias, sitting with Mrs Justice Sharp, said Ofqual had appreciated there were features which had operated unfairly and proposed numerous changes for the future designed to ensure problems that had arisen would not be repeated.

The judge said: “However, having now reviewed the evidence in detail, I am satisfied that it was indeed the structure of the qualification itself which is the source of such unfairness as has been demonstrated in this case, and not any unlawful action by either Ofqual or the AOs (exam boards).”

Dismay at ruling: Page 7.