'Common view' urged over England and Wales exam crisis
10:17pm Tuesday 11th September 2012 in News
EXAM regulators in England and Wales have been urged to attempt to agree a "common view" on how to deal with the GCSE English grading crisis.
The WJEC exam board, which sets GCSEs in both nations, said it was in the "difficult and unexpected position" of being given different instructions from each of the regulators.
Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews ordered the WJEC to re-award its English language GCSE following a Welsh Government review.
Announcing his decision, Mr Andrews said: "It is not right hundreds of our learners should have to live with the consequences of having been awarded what, in all likelihood, is the wrong GCSE grade.
"We are fortunate in Wales that we have a regulatory system which allows swift resolution of injustice. We have acted to protect the interests of students in Wales, by issuing the direction to the WJEC."
His decision is in stark contrast to England - where Education Secretary Michael Gove has refused to intervene, despite warning that GCSEs are "unfit for purpose".
Ministers should not "meddle" in decisions made by Ofqual, which is an independent regulator, he said.
Ofqual has conducted an inquiry which concluded that January's GCSE English assessments were "graded generously" but the June boundaries were properly set and candidates' work properly graded. It insisted it would be inappropriate for either of the sets of exams to be regraded. Instead, students will be given an extra chance to resit the GCSE in November.
In a statement today, WJEC said: "We find ourselves in a difficult and unexpected position, which has implications for all our candidates in England and Wales. In the summer we acted on joint instructions from regulators to adjust our GCSE English language awards downwards at Grade C, in order to ensure comparable outcomes.
"We now find one regulator confirming that the decision made was correct, and another asking us to re-grade, reversing the previous joint decision. As an urgent next step, we have asked the regulators to explore the possibility of agreeing a common view so that we can act to remove the uncertainty for schools and colleges in England and Wales, and ensure a coherent and rational way forward for all our candidates."