Reforms could lead to exam result turmoil

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SCHOOLS have been warned to expect differences in GCSE and A-level results this year following major reforms to the exams.

England’s exams regulator Ofqual said there is likely to be “variability” in grades this summer because of the significant changes to the qualifications.

In a letter, published as the summer exam season comes to an end, Ofqual said it wanted to make schools and colleges aware of the possible impact that reforms will have on results.

A move to end-of-course exams, rather than exams throughout, more students taking international GCSEs (IGCSE), cuts to re-sits, a toughening up of GCSE geography and a decision by Government that only a youngster’s first attempt at a GCSE will count in school league tables are all likely to affect this year’s results, the regulator said. Further changes, such as speaking and listening assessments which no longer count towards a student’s overall GCSE English grade and a move towards more exams and less coursework in the subject, could also have an impact.

The letter from chief regulator Glenys Stacey, said: “Collectively these changes in the student mix are likely to result in a little more variability than usual, school by school. When qualifications change, we would expect individual school results to be more variable, because the changes will have different impacts in different schools.”

In 2012 a change to the way English GCSEs were sat was blamed for a major row over after exam boards changed their boundaries during the year meaning the same standard of work could get different grades depending on when it was marked.