Decision on exam grade legal battle in new year

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CAMPAIGNERS will hear next month whether they have won their legal battle to get GCSE English papers re-marked after grade boundaries were shifted during the year.

A Judicial Review hearing took place a fortnight ago after a national alliance of councils, schools, pupils and teaching organisations was formed to challenge the way this summer’s exams were marked.

The legal action was against the exam boards AQA and EdExcel and exam regulator Ofqual over the way in which grade boundaries were moved during the year. This meant the same standard of work received different grades depending on whether it was assessed in January or June.

The alliance claims legally flawed decision-making led to an estimated 10,000 pupils who sat exams in June missing out on a C grade, and is asking for papers taken this summer to be regraded.

Initial reports suggested a verdict would be reached this year but now campaigners are expecting it in the new year.

The alliance includes 11 councils and more than 20 schools from Yorkshire. Leeds City Council has been one of the authorities leading the call for legal action.

Last week the council’s executive member for children and young people’s services, Coun Judith Blake, voiced confidence that the court would find in the campaigners’ favour.

During the court hearing, Clive Sheldon QC said students had been the victims of radical changes in the grade boundaries that happened without warning.

Mr Sheldon said Ofqual had given instructions to exam boards to avoid “grade inflation”. He said exam boards were told to ensure results met forecasts based on statistical predictions derived from students’ performances in primary school tests five years earlier.

The exam boards and Ofqual denied acting unlawfully or unfairly. Lawyers for the exam boards said they had raised the mark needed for a GCSE English C grade based on their judgment of the quality of the work.