GCSE grade boundary controversy continues

Graham NewmanChanges to grade boundaries for GCSE’s in the summer have had a detrimental effect on overall Key Stage 4 results across Suffolk

Last minute changes to grade boundaries for GCSE’s in the summer have had a detrimental effect on overall Key Stage 4 results across Suffolk schools, with even high performing schools seeing the effect on their normally excellent results.

Suffolk schools were particularly badly hit by the changes to grade boundaries as 31 out of 37 schools used the AQA examination board, which was widely believed to have adjusted its grade boundaries most drastically.

Data released today shows Suffolk has fallen down the league table to 142nd out of 151 local authorities, with only 51% of Suffolk pupils achieving 5 A*- C grades including maths and english compared to the national average of 59%.

This disappointing rating comes as A Level results for the same schools have been released showing a strong increase on last year, calling the controversial GCSE results even further into question.

On average in Suffolk the number of points per student for A Levels has increased by 27 points compared to last years results. This means that students on average scored one grades higher than previous years. Typically in 2011 this would have meant that students gained three B’s and this year this would equate to students scoring two B’s and a A.

The county council’s investment in providing Suffolk One and Lowestoft sixth form college whose results are included in these figures for the first time this year may well have contributed to this record breaking improvement.

The county council is committed to helping schools raise attainment levels and have allocated additional funding to each school to enable extra revision sessions can be provided for students. Each Local Authority school within Suffolk has received an extra £1000 to help towards the cost of running revision classes and providing additional revision resources for students to help them with that final concentrated effort prior to examinations.

Councillor Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education and young people, said:

“This summer headteachers and parents were rightly very concerned about the grades being awarded for GCSE English. As such I personally wrote to all our local MPs, OFQUAL, and the Parliamentary Select Committee urging them to consider the unfair shift in grade boundaries.

“The inconsistencies in grade boundaries caused a number of students to miss out on job, apprenticeship or further education opportunities as well as causing high levels of anxiety and stress for students and their parents. Now we are seeing what many considered an unfair decision to change grade boundaries reflecting negatively on the overall picture for Key Stage 4 results for schools across the county.

“We have a number of excellent schools within the county that have worked tirelessly to ensure their students receive the grades of which they are capable. The Key Stage 4 figures released today simply do not do those schools, and those students, justice.

“Our A Level results show how the grade boundary alteration has warped how our schools appear in the league tables. The same schools that have slipped down the GCSE league tables have done fantastically with their A Level results, where grade boundaries have not been changed at the last minute and the quite often the same teachers have been teaching both GCSE and A Level pupils.

“We are working very closely with our schools to ensure they have the necessary support from the county council to enable them to prepare their students for GCSE’s, including additional financial support to provide extra revision resources.”

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