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Wigan Council supports legal challenge on GCSE grading controversy
Friday 21st September, 2012

Hundreds of pupils across Wigan Borough affected by this year’s GCSE grading controversy may yet see their June exam papers re-marked.

Wigan Council is giving its support to a national campaign which calls for GCSE English exam papers taken in June this year to be re-examined in line with the papers taken by their fellow pupils in January.

Pupils from across England have been invited to join in the legal action taken today by schools, councils and professional bodies against exam regulator Ofqual and exam bodies AQA and Edexcel. The legal action is being taken by an alliance made up of 113 schools, 36 councils and 7 professional bodies from the length and breadth of England. In Greater Manchester, Salford and Manchester councils have also joined the petition.

A pre-action letter delivered to Ofqual, AQA and Edexcel today states:
“It is inconceivable that two cohorts of students enrolled for the same course in the same academic year, who have undertaken the same work and invested the same effort, and who will be competing in future for the same opportunities, should be subjected to such radically different standards of assessment and award.”

Schools and students relied on the published January grade boundaries in making their preparations for the June exam. It is claimed that because no specific, focused warning of a significant grade boundary change was made, schools and students were denied the opportunity to change their preparation.

The grade boundaries for the GCSE English foundation paper were changed for a C award by 10 marks between the January 2012 and June 2012 exams, a radical change of boundary which is totally unprecedented. Many pupils have been left with D grades who, had they sat the exam in January, would have got a C. This is mirrored in every authority in the country.

Nick Hudson, Wigan Council’s Director of the People’s Directorate, says:
“We hope to right a wrong by supporting this legal challenge. It is totally unfair that young people at such a crucial stage in their educational and professional development have been dealt this dreadful blow.

“It has been suggested that these young people can simply re-sit their exams, but sadly re-sits often carry less weight in Further and Higher Education. That’s one more reason why this injustice cannot go unchallenged and why, even if the action takes months, we must persist to ensure we are successful and our students reap the benefits.”

Cllr Susan Loudon, Wigan Council’s portfolio holder for children and young people says: “Our young people are paying for the mistakes of bungling bureaucratic box-tickers. Students performing at exactly the same level in January and June have been given different results – some have passed through the gateway into their next level of education or training, while others have had the door slammed shut in their face.

“There is a clear moral issue here. A group of young people are being made to pay a devastating price for the mistakes of others. This must be rectified swiftly."

A Pre-Action Letter written in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review was sent to Ofqual, AQA and Edexcel today giving them seven days in which to respond.

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