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Islington council to mount legal challenge over changes to GCSE grade boundaries

15:59 20 October 2012

Councillor Richard Watts

Councillor Richard Watts

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Borough says 133 pupils got Ds rather than Cs in ‘unfair’ English results

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Islington Council is taking legal action against the government over changes to GCSE grade boundaries after calculating that more than 100 pupils were hit by the switch.

Cllr Richard Watts, executive member for children and families, said on Monday that the borough will join forces with up to 40 local authorities seeking a judicial review of this summer’s English papers, which they say were marked more harshly than the same exams in January.

He said 133 pupils in Islington, nearly 10 per cent of the total, ended up with D grades rather than the Cs required to get onto many college courses.

The council wants the papers regraded so those students do not have to resit.

Cllr Watts said: “We now know the level of the unfairness and it’s very significant.

“I think it’s our job to stand up for our young people where they have been treated unfairly.

“These people won’t be getting onto college courses because of this.

“We hope students will get regraded, because kids doing resits is massively unfair.

“The legal advice we have is that we have a good chance of winning. ”

Last month, a letter leaked to the Times Educational Supplement revealed that government exams regulator Ofqual ordered exam board Edexcel to change the grade boundaries for English.

The C grade boundary was raised by up to 10 marks between papers sat in January and those taken in June.

“The more we hear about the level of interference in this from the regulator, it seems really clear that young people have been treated unfairly,” added Cllr Watts.

The councils are taking action against three bodies – Ofqual and exam boards Edexcel and AQA.

In Islington, the percentage of pupils attaining the benchmark five GCSEs at A* to C, with English and maths, rose from 49 in 2011 to 54 per cent this year.

Cllr Watts says that rate would have been as high as 58 per cent without the “unfair” shift in English grade boundaries.

Hackney Learning Trust, which is in charge of education in Hackney, is understood to be seriously considering joining the action as well. It has yet to calculate how many Hackney students were affected.

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