GCSE re-grades: WJEC fears repeat in Wales

BBC Wales education correspondent Arwyn Jones explains the situation

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An exams body has raised concerns that the situation which led to the re-grading of more than 2,000 English language GCSE papers in Wales last year could arise again.

Following accusations the exams had been marked too harshly, affected pupils secured a higher grade in 2012.

The Welsh government branded the WJEC's comments "silly" and insisted there would not be a repetition.

The High Court ruled against a bid to overturn English GCSE results.

Start Quote

We will not allow the methodology used in England to determine the results of candidates in Wales”

End Quote Welsh government

The legal move followed a decision by the UK government not to re-grade the papers taken by thousands of pupils in England.

But the High Court rejected a bid from school leaders, teachers' unions and councils to change grade boundaries in last summer's GCSE English exams.

While accepting the results were "a matter of widespread and genuine concern," the court ruled said there had been no unlawful action by the Ofqual exam regulator or exam boards.

Last summer, thousands of GCSE students in Wales who were disappointed with their English Language results faced a long wait before being told they would be re-graded.

The WJEC says it is "awaiting clarification" from the Welsh government as a "matter of urgency" that the situation cannot arise again this year.

The Welsh government said: "These comments are silly.

"As WJEC are aware we are taking steps to ensure that there will not be a repetition of the events of last summer with regard to the award of GCSE English Language in Wales.

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It is of paramount importance for WJEC that learners in Wales achieve qualifications that have the same 'currency' and hence portability as their counterparts across the UK”

End Quote WJEC

"We are requiring WJEC to issue separate exam papers for GCSE English Language in Wales and to make grading decisions on the basis of comparable outcomes in Wales.

"We will not allow the methodology used in England to determine the results of candidates in Wales."

The WJEC said it was "of paramount importance for WJEC that learners in Wales achieve qualifications that have the same 'currency' and hence portability as their counterparts across the UK".

It added: "It is therefore very disappointing that the Welsh government has released this statement as we are in regular dialogue with them about this year's examinations and we are awaiting clarification from them on several issues relating to GCSE English Language as a matter of urgency."

Wales' Education Minister Leighton Andrews last week welcomed a decision to retain GCSEs in England.

Proposals to scrap the qualifications - which have now been dropped - would have added to growing differences with the Welsh system.

The Welsh government had already committed to keeping GCSEs.

Other changes to the English system will remain, including a move towards exams at the end of two years of study instead of pupils picking up points which count towards their final grade through modular exams.

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