GCSE review to go ahead next month

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THE JUDICIAL review into this summer’s GCSE English grading row is to be heard next month in London at a three-day court hearing.

Campaigners from Yorkshire have welcomed the decision to hold the hearings next month after voicing fears that it could have been delayed until the New Year.

A national alliance of councils, schools, pupils and teaching organisations have led a legal challenge of the way exam boards moved GCSE grade boundaries between January and June this year.

This led to claims that around 10,000 pupils were given a D this summer when the same standard of work would have been given a C had it been assessed earlier in the year.

The group want this summer’s paper remarked in line with the grade boundaries in January - as has happened with Welsh students involved in the row.

The action has been taken against exam boards EdExcel and AQA along with the exams regulator Ofqual.

Earlier this week a judge ordered an urgent hearing of the legal challenge over this summer’s GCSE English controversy.

Today it was announced that it would take place on December 18,19 and 20 in the Administrative Court in London.

The alliance is challenging a decision by the exam boards to raise the boundary needed to get a grade C between January and June, as well as what they claim was a failure by Ofqual to address the situation.

A statement of claim submitted to the High Court says: “The decisions have prejudiced the life chances of thousands of children. The immediate effects of the decisions include children being unable to progress in education, losing vocational opportunities and jobs and being unable to gain employment.”The children affected by the decisions were entitled to be treated in a fair, consistent and rational manner by the defendants. They were not. The decisions are incompatible with the most elementary principles of fairness, rationality and good administration. They are unlawful and should be quashed.”

The alliance includes 167 pupils, as well as 150 schools, and 42 councils from around the country as well as six professional bodies.

Leeds City Council has played a leading role in the campaign and hosted a summit over the issue last month. At this event lawyers said the legal battle had a “better than 50 per cent” chance of success.

It is one of 11 education authorities in Yorkshire which is part of the alliance.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children’s services said: “I welcome this news on behalf of the consortium members and the thousands of young people who have been affected by the grading fiasco. This situation has been allowed to drag on for far too long, it could have, and should have, been dealt with months ago as it was in Wales.

“I am really pleased that the court has recognised the need for urgency particularly as we understand that the respondents had asked for to be delayed until the new year.”

Ofqual has previously responded to a pre-action letter sent by the alliance, vowing to “rigorously defend” its decisions over the exam results.