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change to GCSE grade boundaries “legitimate”

13 February 2013

The High Court has today ruled that a decision by Ofqual, AQA and Edexcel to raise the grade boundaries for last summer’s GCSE English paper was lawful. However, Lord Justice Elias criticised the “structure of the qualification” as the “source” of the unfairness.

The case was brought by 167 pupils, supported by schools, councils and professional bodies, who argued that it was unfair that pupils sitting the GCSE English exam in January received a higher grade than pupils who received the same mark but sat the exam in June. The exam boards argued that the change was necessary because the exam was too easy.

The outcome will clearly be deeply disappointing for schools and pupils, including the estimated 10,000 pupils who missed out on a C grade because of the change. The exam boards will need to work hard to re-establish confidence in the system and demonstrate that an error of this nature will not happen again.

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