Gove to join regulator in exams evidence to MPs

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Education Secretary Michael Gove and Ofqual chief Glenys Stacey are to give evidence to MPs about this summer’s GCSE English grading crisis.

They will appear before the cross-party Commons Education Select Committee in two different sessions next week.

The general secretaries of England’s two biggest headteachers’ unions, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), will also give evidence.

Committee chairman Graham Stuart said: “As the independent regulator, Ofqual is accountable to Parliament through my committee.

“We are also keen to hear from headteachers on this important topic before we take evidence from the Secretary of State on Wednesday September 12.”

Ms Stacey, Ofqual’s chief regulator, will give evidence on Tuesday.

ASCL general secretary Brian Lightman and NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby will also give evidence on Tuesday, accompanied by headteachers.

The move comes amid the continuing furore over the grading of this year’s GCSE English exams.

The row began as national GCSE results were published last month and it emerged that GCSE English grading boundaries had been altered between January and June.

Headteachers have predicted that thousands of pupils have been affected by the move, with concerns centring around those who were expected to get a C but ended up with a D grade.

Overall, 63.9 per cent of GCSE English exams were awarded at least a C, a 1.5 per cent drop on the year before.

On Friday, Ofqual announced it would be inappropriate for either of the sets of exams to be regraded as teaching unions continued to threaten legal action over the issue.

Pupils who are unhappy with their results have been told they can resit the GCSE in November.

Earlier this week, Mr Gove refused to intervene in the row as he warned GCSEs are “unfit for purpose”. Ministers should not “meddle” in decisions made by Ofqual, he said.

Speaking at an east London school yesterday morning, Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg told pupils that he had a “lot of sympathy” for those pupils and parents, who have been “pretty unsettled by the whole issue of English GCSE”.

He said he and Mr Gove had been doing a lot of work to make sure the whole system was fair and obvious to everybody and hoped to be making some announcements soon.

“So we make sure that all children participate in exams, just as they do now with GCSEs, that we don’t just turn our backs on a bunch of children... But yes, that we try and stretch the brightest amongst you and push for better results and raise aspiration, raise the bar if you like. But make sure we have proper support in place as we raise the bar for children who might struggle to make the leap.”