Wales

GCSE WJEC English exam pupils to get regraded results

  • 19 September 2012
  • From the section Wales

Hundreds of pupils across Wales have received the results of regraded GCSE English Language exam papers.

WJEC exam board employees worked overtime after the Welsh education minister said the original marking criteria disadvantaged students.

On Tuesday it was revealed more than 2,300 pupils received better results.

The results of students in England who took the same paper were not regraded - the cause of a row between the UK and Welsh governments.

Some 34,000 students in Wales took the paper in the summer.

The proportion of those who achieved a grade C for English language was down 3.9% on last year.

Later on Wednesday, the WJEC published statistics showing how the regrade had affected the overall pass rate at A* to C in English language exams across Wales.

In August, the overall pass rate for the English language paper stood at 57.5% - a significant drop on the 2011 figure of 61.6%.

But the regrade has pushed the number getting A* to C grade in the subject up to 61.1%. That is still marginally down on last year.

Issues with GCSE English grading emerged as soon as results reached schools in August.

UK Government Education Minister Michael Gove was critical of Welsh Education Secretary Leighton Andrews' subsequent decision for directing the WJEC (previously known as Welsh Joint Education Committee) exam board to regrade Welsh students.

The focus of regrading has been put on the C to D grade boundary which would take a pupil from a fail to a pass.

A total of 1,202 students have now had grades increased from a D to a C and 598 from a C to a B grade.

Lowering boundaries also meant some changes at other grades. This resulted in an overall figure of 2,386 receiving raised grades.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said: "Candidates can now rest assured that the process used to determine their final grades was fair and just."

Mr Andrews admitted on his twitter feed on Tuesday night he still expected overall grades in English Language paper to be down from last year.

The results of 84,000 English students who took the same paper were not be regraded, meaning a C in Wales could be equivalent to a D in England.

Meanwhile, the gulf between education in Wales and England has grown with UK government plans to reform GCSEs in England being unveiled on Monday.

Westminster Education Secretary Michael Gove revealed that GCSEs in core subjects in England will be replaced by a qualification called the English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBC).

A single end-of-course exam and one exam board for core subjects will be introduced.

Mr Gove challenged Mr Andrews to "embrace the progressive reforms that this coalition government has put forward".

Mr Andrews has said that he will make his own decision on GCSEs in Wales in November.

He described Mr Gove's plans as "a backward step", saying there was still support within Wales for GCSEs.

The Welsh government is the exam regulator in Wales, while in England the job is done by Ofqual, which has said it does not see the need for a regrade.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said on Wednesday that "justice has been done" for students in Wales.

The UCAC teaching union - Wales's own education union for teachers, head-teachers and lecturers - said it was "regrettable" the qualifications system had become a political football.

"We're glad that the situation has been rectified in relation to the majority of students in Wales," said union policy officer Rebecca Williams.

Owen Hathway, policy officer with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Cymru, said it was "simply unacceptable to move the goalposts for boundary grades half way through the process, especially having not given any prior warning to teachers and pupils".

"What we have seen through the re-grading is Welsh students getting the qualifications they deserve," he added.

"Employers and further education institutions will know when they are evaluating the credentials of Welsh students who have taken this exam they are getting a fair reflection of their performance."

At Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun in Rhondda Cynon Taff, 151 pupils sat the English exam in the summer.

Eight pupils been regraded, five from a C grade to a B and a further three from a D grade to the C grade.

Hywel Price, head teacher at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun near Aberdare, said: "We've seen a significant increase in the number of queries from parents into regrading GCSEs as a whole.

"Last week, when the whole issue of regrading really blew up my examinations officer received 60 queries from parents.

"We've never had that kind of reaction before. There's a definite worry about how standards apply and where do we go from here."

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