“We need to consider fairness to students past, present and future” – a report on Ofqual

The report from Ofqual, released yesterday afternoon, left students and schools affected by the GCSE English grade boundary shambles breathless. There was a period of silence as the details of the report were digested and then renewed incandescence.

Past students (those who received their award in January), may feel their achievements have been devalued by this report and that this is unfair.

Present students who had their work assessed against radically raised grade boundaries in June and did not get the grade C that they deserved will not see the fairness.

Future students will worry whether they will be treated fairly as they strive within a system that has let so many others down.

If there was nothing wrong with the June awards, why offer a re-sit? And is this the right way of dissuading schools from early entries and re-sits? How will a re-sit in November help a student with a post-16 offer now? Surely an admission that the grade boundaries were “generous” in January in the report is enough of a failure to discredit Ofqual’s raison d’être?

If Ofqual is about securing standards, there will be plenty of evidence across the country of June entry D grade students producing the same quality of work as those who received C grades in January.

The report read like a litany of excuses and never addressed the key issue of significant in-year changes to expectations. 

Glenys Stacey’s announcement that the students who received their grades in January, “got lucky” was a car-crash moment for someone in such high office.

English teachers with, it seems, far more experience than Ofqual, know what a C grade student’s work looks like. Our staff did not “over-predict”; this is a shameful accusation to make against professionals who have used their experience and judgement and been proved correct over many years.

The error lies within a politicised, statistical model that failed the young people it serves and failed in its core purpose of maintaining a standard.

The free November re-sit feels like returning faulty goods and receiving a credit note for a place that you never want to set foot in again.