GCSE grading controversy

Fabian has been distressed and angered hearing the accounts of many young people who were not awarded the grades they expected in English GCSE in the summer 2012 examinations. Their disappointment is mirrored by the dismay of their teachers in many of the constituency secondary schools who have very many years of experience of assessing pupils before GCSE examinations and who know very closely the standards that have been required in the past for particular certificate grades.

Fabina is supporting the efforts by schools and Leeds City Council to ensure that there is a full investigation of what has gone wrong this summer and has written to Michael Gove to demand an independant examination of what has happened with marking and grading this summer.

This is the text of the letter that Fabian has sent-

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Secretary of State for Education
House of Commons

Many constituents, students and teachers have written to me vociferously protesting about the debacle of the GCSE grades awarded this summer. I have to advise you that there is widespread anger across all sections of the education community at a situation where it appears there has been an arbitrary change to the English standard required for particular grades, especially that for the crucial threshold at grade C. Teachers, well experienced in assessment, tell me that they detected no softening of expected standards in terms of the results achieved by students in the January examinations and the explanation that latitude introduced inadvertently had then to be corrected is just not plausible.

I feel that it is not acceptable for you to simply defer to the OFQUAL explanation and seek to distance yourself from the solution to this matter. I suggest that you urgently deploy a competent team of specialist HMI and AI to investigate samples of scripts sat in January and June 2012 and the way that they were subsequently assessed and graded. Sampling by expert teachers independent of both OFQUAL and the examination boards is needed to precisely establish what has happened.

At the present time the loss of confidence in the summer English grades, together with the intervention now ordered in Wales on the same issue, is rendering the situation for this summer's candidates impossible. Notwithstanding any plans for reform of the examinations taken by students at age 16, we have a duty of care to all those who have sat papers this year. I therefore urge you to take immediate action to gain your own evidence and then to act accordingly.

Yours etc.

Fabian Hamilton

Labour MP for Leeds North East