GCSE exam row reignites

The Welsh Government has dismissed Plaid Cymru claims that it did a u-turn over GCSE English exam grades. The party's education spokesperson, Simon Thomas, had seized on evidence that the WJEC exam board gave to the Assembly Children's Committee.

The WJEC said that both it and the Welsh Government had reluctantly agreed to proposals from England's exam regulator, Ofqual, to change the grade boundaries before pupils sat this summer's exam.

The evidence given to the committee shows that the Welsh Government agreed to change the GCSE English Language grades in the first place and then changed their minds. The Welsh Education Minister did a U-turn on the re-grading. The Welsh Government as an exam regulator was responsible for the initial decision.

– Plaid Cymru Education Spokesperson Simon Thomas AM

WJEC's evidence to the committee does not contradict the Welsh Government's position. We have made it clear, since 10 September when we published our report on GCSE English Language, that we had previously agreed, reluctantly, to the request that was originally made to WJEC to change grade boundaries. Welsh Government officials repeatedly put their concerns to Ofqual. The decision to carry out the re-grade in Wales, based on evidence from our report into the situation, led to the swift resolution of an injustice to well over 2000 Welsh candidates.

– Spokesperson for Education Minister Leighton Andrews AM

Ofqual's chief regulator, Glenys Stacey, also appeared before AMs. She explained why she thought the Welsh Government was wrong to order a regrade.

It puts three country regulation into a very difficult position because what we have there is one of the regulators determining after the event to set a different standard. We are not able to say we have a common standard for England and Wales.

– Ofqual Chief Regulator Glenys Stacey

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GCSE regrade row

The Welsh Government was warned that regrading GCSE exams in English would 'seriously damage' the integrity of the qualification. The comments were made by the WJEC exam board in emails released by the Welsh Government.