Putting the cross into cross border

The jagged edges of devolution have rarely seemed so pointed.

For the Welsh examining board, the WJEC, those jagged edges look very much today like the horns of a dilemma. They've made clear that they made a grade C "more severe" because both the English regulator, Ofqual and the Welsh regulator, the government - jointly - asked them to. They may be based in Wales but in fact, more pupils in England sit their exams than Welsh pupils. They are therefore accountable to both.

The Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, says yes - but no but yes. They did tell the WJEC to change the grade boundaries but it wasn't their idea - and they didn't want to.

"Regulatory officials in Wales continued to express strong reservations about the methodology, but at this late stage, recognising the need to reach agreement, as this option produced the least damaging impact on outcomes for Wales, Welsh Government officials reluctantly agreed to accept this amendment to the outcomes which resulted in an overall 3.9 percentage point fall in outcomes for Wales".

A very thorough review has now persuaded the minister that this was the wrong move and that the right one is to regrade Welsh pupils.

Come on guys, say the WJEC. One regulator says regrade, the other says don't. Give us a break. Stop slugging it out and find a more "coherent and rational way forward".

In Westminster, the Education Secretary is not for turning. Downing Street are sticking to the view that for a politician to intervene is simply wrong.

For Leighton Andrews, the jagged edge has just been delivered in the form of a stinging slap around the cheeks from Amanda Spielman, the chair of Ofqual. Mr Andrews is demanding that papers in Wales are regraded, she says, because pupils in Wales can't be seen to be failing to improve. The Welsh Labour government are fiddling the figures to disguise their own failure.

"There is a political difficulty in Wales. There is a clear divergence in performance between English and Welsh candidates. If English candidates are where we think they are, based on our work, the implication is that Welsh candidate performance is not improving. This is a very difficult conclusion for the Welsh to accept politically, hence what we've seen yesterday."

In the last few minutes, Mr Andrews has made clear he's not afraid to put the cross into cross border issues himself. Yesterday's 'call' on the WJEC to regrade has just been, well, upgraded to a formal direction - in other words, a ministerial demand.

I'm tempted to suggest that all that is missing is the Reverand Lovejoy's wife in The Simpsons and her plaintive cry of "Won't somebody please think of the children!?!"

No doubt all the players will argue they're doing just that. Can they all be right?