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English GCSEs overmarked by teachers, says regulator

Ofqual's report into GCSE English exams found that many schools used the marks pupils received in their first exams and the January grade boundaries to work out what score a pupil would need in their controlled assessment and marked it accordingly.

Ofqual says teachers in some of England's secondary schools were guilty of "significantly" over-marking pupils' GCSE English work. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The majority of controlled assessment work was submitted in the summer, and examiners saw evidence of over-marking.

As a result, grade boundaries were raised to take account of this, and led to some students getting lower grades than expected.

Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey said the distribution of this year's GCSE English results, which saw bunching around the C grade boundary, was "shocking".

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Ofqual chief regulator 'shocked' by report findings

Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey has said "children have been let down" by school exam systems and that she was "shocked" by the findings of the report.

We have been shocked by what we have found. Children have been let down. That won't do.

It's clear that children are increasingly spending too much time jumping through hoops rather than learning the real skills they need in life. That won't do.

Teachers feel under enormous pressure in English, more than in any other subject, and we have seen that too often, this is pushing them to the limit. That won't do either.

– Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey

Headteachers have said that tens of thousands of teenagers received lower GCSE English grades than expected this year after exam boards moved the grade boundaries between January and June.

An initial report by Ofqual concluded that some of January's assessments were "graded generously" but the June boundaries were properly set and candidates' work properly graded.

The regulator today published its second report, looking at the reasons behind the changes in results.

Teenagers 'let down by exam system'

Teenagers have been let down by an exams system that is abused by teachers who are under intense pressure to achieve good grades, Ofqual has warned.

Teachers in some of England's secondary schools were guilty of "significantly" over-marking pupils' GCSE English work this summer in order to boost results, according to chief regulator Glenys Stacey.

Ofqual has said teachers in some of England's secondary schools were guilty of "significantly" over-marking pupils' GCSE English work. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

In a new report into the GCSE English fiasco, Ms Stacey said that it is hard for teachers to maintain their integrity, when they believe that others are abusing the system.

She laid blame for the debacle on intense pressure on schools to reach certain targets, which led to over-marking, as well as poorly designed exams and too much of an emphasis on work marked by teachers.

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Nick Clegg 'wholeheartedly' supports exam reforms

Nick Clegg has said he "wholeheartedly" supports Michael Gove's plans to replace GCSEs with the English Baccalaureate Certificate.

Speaking during a visit to Burlington Danes Academy school in White City, west London, he said:

There are many people who think that if you want to make the system more rigorous, you have to leave some behind, but I disagree.

"I think you can have greater rigour in the exam system, that's a good thing, but also ensure we can cater for all children, the same way the present exam does.

Michael Gove and I have worked closely on this, we are both committed equally to greater rigour in the exam system, yet being inclusive and supportive within the system.

I wholeheartedly support this, I think this is a really good reform.

– Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister
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