Gwent schools face exam resits bill
3:50pm Wednesday 2nd April 2014 in News
SCHOOLS across Gwent face paying thousands for their students to resit two GCSE English units in the summer, teachers and unions warned yesterday, following a government investigation into why grades were lower than predicted.
Yesterday a review into January’s WJEC exam grades concluded there should not be the same sort of mass re-marking exercise as two years ago, when then education minister Leighton Andrews ordered papers to be re-marked.
Schools with already stretched budgets now face paying for Year 11 pupils to resit the two exam units in the summer, after some students predicted A* grades got the lowest possible results.
After an internal enquiry WJEC ordered one examiner’s marking to be re-done and offered schools the chance to have 10 per cent of its papers sent back for free.
Schools can also send exam papers back to be re-marked as a matter of course.
The report said that while WJEC should give extra training to teachers, there was no evidence to suggest it did not follow the correct procedures at all times.
The new GCSE English course, sat by pupils for the first time this year, changed after Mr Andrews ordered a re-grading of papers in 2012.
But yesterday’s report, which saw government officials visit Caldicot, Llanwern and St Julian’s schools as part of the investigation, said there would be “no justification” for re-grading the two English language units.
Denise Richards, head teacher at St Julian’s in Newport, said she would have liked to have seen more support for schools in the report.
At St Julian’s at least 150 Year 11 pupils will resit the two units, said Mrs Richards, at a cost, according to WJEC, of £7.11 per unit.
“My biggest concern is that students predicted to get A* grades got D’s and U’s, and those were not borderline kids, it was kids who have never failed anything in their life getting very upset,” she said.
Staff have been living with uncertainty in the GCSE English course since 2012, she said.
“Trepidation has been the word,” said Mrs Richards. “The English staff don’t feel they know where they are.
Robin Hughes, secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Schools quite rightly will be saying ‘are we supposed to be pay for resits when our budgets are already under intense pressure’.
“Given that WJEC are in the dock, perhaps Welsh Government should instruct them to waive the resit fees, but that’s not for us to decide.”
Speaking at plenary, education minister Huw Lewis insisted “lessons will be learned” and the results acted as a “canary in the mine”.
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