GCSE English papers should not be regraded - minister
Updated 3:55pm Tuesday 1st April 2014 in News
EDUCATION minister Huw Lewis confirmed this afternoon that GCSE English papers from January, which saw pupils getting grades lower than those predicted, will not be re-graded.
Speaking at Plenary this afternoon the minister insisted lessons would be learned from the situation, including new arrangements with WJEC and other exam boards that they should notify Welsh Government of results “promptly”, rather than on the day of publication as happened this year.
He was commenting on a report written by government officials who were investigating what went wrong with the results of two units, published in January. Officials visited Caldicot, Llanwern and St Julian’s High Schools as part of their investigation.
The minister also stood by the decision of his predecessor, Leighton Andrews, to order English papers to be remarked in 2012, something that will not happen this time round.
“It is important to note that the schools my officials spoke to did not feel the timing of the change of specification back in autumn 2012 contributed to these results,” he said.
“The changes were made for good reasons after serious weaknesses in the previous specification were identified.”
In 2015 the exam structure for English and Welsh language GCSEs will change from modular, where students sit some exams in the spring and the rest in the summer, to linear, a move which Mr Lewis says is backed by teachers.
THE DEBACLE over January's GCSE English exam grades in Wales should not see the same sort of mass re-marking event as two years ago, according to a Welsh Government report.
The report, published this morning, comes as the result of "a rapid fact finding exercise" ordered by education minister Huw Lewis, into lower-than-expected English grades from two January GCSE exam modules.
The exam board which delivered the papers, the WJEC, conducted its own internal enquiry into what went wrong with the new course and ordered the marking of one examiner to be re-done, affecting six exam centres across Wales.
The government report was critical of the WJEC, suggesting it should review its online material and give extra training to teachers, but said "there is no evidence to suggest that WJEC did not follow the correct procedures at all times".
It said schools were prepared for the new specification and revised weighting - which placed greater emphasis on accuracy, spelling and punctuation in the January 2014 modules.
The report said that exam results often fluctuate when students sit a new exam paper.
The new GCSE English course, sat by pupils for the first time this January, is specific to Wales, and was changed after the then education minister Leighton Andrews ordered a re-grading of papers two years ago.
Today's report stressed that that had been "an exceptional measure" and: "The situation regarding January 2014 unit outcomes is different.
"On the basis of the broad range of evidence considered by the review team, there would be no justification for regrading the January 2014 GCSE English language units - these should stand."
Education minister Huw Lewis AM is scheduled to respond to the report and its recommendations, which he can approve, dismiss or amend this afternoon.
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