Latest Public Sector News

02.11.12

Ofqual finds 'significant overmarking' in English GCSEs

Exams regulator Ofqual has said it is “shocked” by the significant overmarking found on this summer’s English GCSE papers, although it is blaming pressures on teachers and the incentives they face rather than teachers themselves.

Chief executive Glenys Stacey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Teachers are not making up marks here. They are doing the level best to do the best for their students and they are bound given the pressures they are under to take the most optimistic view…[T]here is an amount of tolerance if you like, leeway in the marking, but if enough teachers mark up to that tolerance, mark up to that limit then overall it has a national effect.” 

She said: “Children have been let down. That won't do. It's clear that children are increasingly spending too much time jumping through hoops rather than learning the real skills they need in life. Teachers feel under enormous pressure in English, more than in any other subject, and we have seen that too often, this is pushing them to the limit.” 

The second report into this year’s exams released today confirms there will be no re-mark, as altering the June results to match those from January would mean the 2012 results would be skewed too high compared to previous years. 

Ofqual’s report shows how some schools used the marks pupils received in their first exams, combined with the January grade boundaries, to work out exactly what score a pupil would need in their ‘controlled assessment’. 

Although Ofqual has been keen to avoid placing the blame on teachers, unions have still reacted angrily. 

NUT general secretary Christine Blower,said: “The solution is to regrade the exams of young people who, together with their teachers, worked to the parameters set in January.” 

There is more detail at: www.ofqual.gov.uk/news/poor-design-gcse-english-exam-grade-variations/ 

An interesting analysis of the data and league table pressure is available here

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