15/02/2013

'Unfair but not illegal': the worryingly mixed message from the Judicial Review of the GCSE English fiasco...

You will be aware from the local media that from the day of the publication of last summer's GCSE English grades I had voiced my profound concerns on behalf of our students and English Teachers about the injustices and inequities caused by the changes to grade boundaries between the January and June examinations.  These changes reduced the grades of 57 of our students and lowered the school's overall percentage of five or more A*-C grades including English and Maths by approximately 12%.
 
We were therefore one of the 150 schools nationally - and the only school in West Berkshire - which formed part of the alliance of schools, local authorities and individual students that sought to bring the judicial review in an attempt to bring justice to the students who had not been awarded the grades that their hard work and exam performance deserved.  And we were proud to do so.
 
Wednesday's judicial ruling that the re-grading was 'unfair but not illegal' comes as an equally profound disappointment.  As a Headteacher I have always believed that young people respect and value the principle of fairness above everything else when it comes to the decision making which affects them. Aside from the original re-grading issue,  I remain astonished that a candidate who sat the same exam at the same time as those in schools in England but happened to do so in Wales has received, thanks to the Welsh Assembly's (right) decision to adopt the original grade boundaries, a different and higher grade than their counterparts this side of the Severn Bridge.  I'm delighted for them.  They deserve the grade they legitimately achieved.  But how can this inequity also be allowed to go unchallenged? Unfair?  Yes, certainly.  Illegal? I’m obviously not a lawyer.  But I’ll be interested to see what happens when the first of the candidates are rejected from jobs or prevented from entering the university of their choice on the basis of their 2012 English grade, whilst those with the ‘Welsh’ qualification are accepted.        
 
I am therefore only sorry that our efforts in support of last summer's Year 11 students to achieve fairness for them have not resulted in the right thing being done in response.  I am however very grateful to the Park House Governing Body for all their support in ensuring that we did the right thing for them.

Archive: