Legal challenge mounted over exam fiasco

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COUNCILS and schools across Yorkshire have joined a national alliance to mount a legal challenge over this summer’s English GCSE fiasco which saw exam boards make an “unprecedented” move of the grade boundaries between January and June.

Angry head teachers and council leaders say the move unfairly led to thousands of pupils getting a D when the same standard of work would have earned a C months earlier.

A national consortium of schools, councils and professional teaching organisations have taken the first steps towards legal action today by issuing a formal letter to the examination regulator Ofqual and exam boards AQA and Edexcel detailing their challenge.

It says: “It is inconceivable that two cohorts of students enrolled for the same course in the same academic year, who have undertaken the same work and invested the same effort, and who will be competing in future for the same opportunities, should be subjected to such radically different standards of assessment and award.”

The group want GCSE English exam papers taken in June this year regraded in line with the papers taken in January.

The alliance includes eight councils from Yorkshire: Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Hull, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York and more than 20 schools from the region.

The Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers, the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, the National Union of Teachers, the Girls’ Schools Association, the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the Academies Enterprise Trust, the Independent Academies Association, the National Association for the Teaching of English, and the Bradford Partnership are also involved.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children’s services, said: “I am very disappointed that it has come to this point. The legal challenge was always our last resort. We already have over 50 other local authorities and professional organisations in the consortium as well as hundreds of individual schools, which gives massive weight to our legal challenge and proves that we are far from alone in this fight.”

The legal challenge is being made on behalf of students who would each have received a grade C had their papers been marked in January, but were awarded a D.