Wrong to blame teachers for GCSE fiasco, says Penryn headteacher

CLAIMS that teachers’ over-marking of coursework was to blame for this summer’s GCSE English grades row have been dismissed by the headteacher of Penryn College.

Marie Hunter was responding to comments by exam regulator Ofqual’s chief regulator Glenys Stacey, who laid the blame for the fiasco firmly at the doorstep of schools across the country.

The row blew up when grade boundaries were changed for June’s GCSE English examinations, leading to pupils receiving lower than expected grades.

Schools had hit out at Ofqual for altering the boundaries without warning, leading to unfair marking for those sitting the exams later in the year.

Miss Stacey, speaking last week, said a study of exam marking across the country had revealed schools were over-marking their pupil’s coursework.

She said: “We have been shocked by what we have found. Children have been let down.”

However, Penryn headteacher Mrs Hunter said there were controls in place to ensure the schools had marked the exams correctly.

She told the Packet: “In each school, and certainly at Penryn College, there are well established systems in place to ensure that each teacher marks examination work to the specified examination standard.

“It is very important that each teacher is not too lenient or too strict in their application of the examination marking rules.

“Coursework is marked by the teacher, moderated internally in the school and then standards are verified by an Examination Board Moderator who then provides each school with a written report on their standards.

“Penryn College English Department were commended this year for its high standards, excellent marking and experience in setting appropriate tasks.

“If OFQUAL have found that some teachers in some schools are not marking to the correct standard, the problem lies firmly with the Examination Boards whose job it is to regulate this.”

Mrs Hunter was supported by Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, who said: “For Ofqual to suggest that teachers and schools are to blame is outrageous, and flies in the face of the evidence.

“The fact remains that different standards were applied to the exams in June and January and this is blatantly wrong.

“The accountability measures do place tremendous pressure on teachers and schools, especially at GCSE grade C, but to say that teachers would compromise their integrity to the detriment of students is an insult.”

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