Andrews defends GCSE regrade

The Education Minister in the Welsh Government, Leighton Andrews, has defended his decision to order a regrade of English-language GCSE exams last year, in front of MPs on the Commons Education committee.

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  1. Nick Powell

Leighton Andrews defends GCSE decision

Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews will be questioned by MPs this morning about why he ordered a regrade last summer of the GCSE English exam set by the Welsh exam board, the WJEC. His decision overturned a change in grade boundaries backed by the Education Secretary at Westminster.

It meant that hundreds of Welsh school pupils were moved up a grade from the results they were initially given. That's led to claims that Welsh and English exam candidates were marked to different standards as there was no regrade in England, even for pupils who sat the WJEC exam.

Mr Andrews has written to the Chair of the Education Select Committee before he gives evidence to MPs and answers their questions. He blames Education Secretary Michael Gove for any damage to the link between Welsh, English and Northern Irish examinations. (Scotland has always had its own system).

GCSEs and A levels are three-country qualifications ... owned jointly by the CCEA (the examinations body in Northern Ireland), Ofqual [who regulate exams in England] and the Welsh Government. You may be interested to know that John O'Dowd, the Minister for Education in Northern Ireland, and I wrote to the Secretary of State for Education on 1 August last year asking for a meeting with him ... he rejected that request, which is unfortunate.

The GCSE English Language grading last year has raised issues that go to the heart of GCSEs as three-country qualifications, including the use of Key Stage 2 indicators -not historically used in either Northern Ireland or Wales- as factors bearing on the setting of grades in GCSEs. [There is also] the question of achieving 'comparable outcomes' ... which Ofqual now appears to see as a year-on-year device to prevent what is sometimes called 'grade inflation'.

– Education Minister Leighton Andrews AM

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