Pressure piles on re-sit pupils

EXTRA pressure has been piled onto numerous North Somerset teenagers as they prepare to retake their English GCSE exam following this summer’s marking fiasco.

Students in the district are some of the 45,000 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland thought to have registered for next month’s re-sit in the hope of improving their grades.

Those who sat their English exam in June were marked using different grade boundaries to papers taken in January. This resulted in pupils receiving lower marks than expected, throwing their future prospects into disarray.

A subsequent inquiry by exams watchdog, Ofqual, concluded January’s papers were graded ‘generously’ and the June boundaries were correctly set. However, the body has given pupils an extra chance to re-sit the GCSE.

Backwell School headteacher, Julian Baldwin, will see at least 38 of his pupils retake the exam. After the results were published in August, he sent a sample of 23 English papers for remarking but only one of them was returned with a grade change.

He said: “Some received, unfairly, a grade D rather than a grade C and that affected courses they have gone on to do.

“For those students that has meant re-sit classes.

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“That is additional work and pressure for them at a time when they are starting their A-level courses.

“We are equally concerned about the students who should have been given an A or A* and have been given a B.

“Many universities require an A* or A in English language for certain courses, including medicine.

“We [headteachers] are outraged the students have been treated so unfairly.”

At Nailsea School, 12 pupils will be retaking their exam, along with a number at Gordano School in Portishead.

Gordano headteacher Gary Lewis said: “Unfortunately, many of the Gordano students most seriously affected left school at the end of year 11 to move on to further education colleges and apprenticeships. Consequently, the impact for them may be that they will have to live with grades which were lower than they deserve.”

Following the publication of this year’s GCSE results, Mr Baldwin wrote to North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox raising his concerns along with those of the headteachers at Gordano, Nailsea, Clevedon and St Katherine’s schools. Their views have since been passed on to Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Meanwhile, Dr Fox has also asked for each school to provide evidence to show how pupils have been affected by the fiasco so it can be passed on to the House of Commons Education Committee, which is holding an inquiry into the issue.

Data from some North Somerset schools has also been given to the Association of School and College Leaders which is pursuing a judicial review in the High Court to ask for June’s papers to be remarked.