Education International
Education International

UK: Mixed reviews for 2013 English grading process

published 21 November 2012 updated 10 December 2012

Two of EI’s national affiliates, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), have commented on plans to change the GCSE English grading process for 2013.

The proposed changes were announced by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) which regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland.

“It comes as no surprise that Ofqual are now making efforts to avoid a repeat of this year’s GCSE grading fiasco,” said NUT General Secretary Christine Blower. “It merely confirms the mess they have made in 2012.”

She also highlighted that there is increasing evidence that the Examination Boards were happy with how marking was carried out. That is why the NUT called for moderators’ reports to be published, she explains. “This will serve to thoroughly discredit recent offensive accusations by Ofqual of mark inflation,” she said.

NUT: UK young people’s future at stake

“The fact remains that young people were let down,” Blower explained. “They, along with their teachers, worked in good faith to the parameters set in January. Ofqual continue to drag their heels and shift the blame, but a judicial review is set for 18-20 December. This cannot come soon enough for those young people whose prospects have been dashed by a mess of Ofqual’s own making.”

NASUWT: A-level reform unnecessary

“There is nothing in Ofqual’s findings which provides any real hard evidence to prove that the wholesale reform of A-levels is necessary or advantageous,” noted NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates.

“The only pressure that is being exerted for reform is based on the ideological agenda of the Secretary of State for Education who is seemingly determined to reduce the A-level to an elite university entrance exam, rather than a qualification which supports and prepares all young people to make the most of their future.”

Keates further deplored the fact that reducing the opportunity for young people to undertake re-sits will seriously disadvantage students who, for whatever reason, are not able to demonstrate their abilities on one particular day at one particular time.

She emphasised that this situation is completely out of keeping with the ethos of an education system which should support learners to achieve their best.

“Rather than whipping up a false hysteria to justify his ideological reforms, the Secretary of State should be focusing on the wealth of evidence highlighting the need to review the high-stakes, punitive inspection regime and the performance league tables which are preventing schools from focusing on the teaching and learning of young people,” she said.

EI: Education more important than ideology

“It is crucial that the UK government, as well as all governments worldwide, understands that it is their responsibility to provide equal opportunities for all citizens to receive free quality public education,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, “and that examinations and assessments should not be used to create or reinforce elitism in school systems”.