School and union leaders in Northampton have hit back at accusations that teachers’ “over-generous” marking of coursework was the cause of the GCSE grading problems.
In its final report on the controversy over this summer’s GCSE English exam, watchdog Ofqual said so much pressure was put on teachers, particularly in English, to ensure students got a C grade they over-marked coursework.
Ofqual chief, Glenys Stacey, said she believed teachers had marked the test “optimistically”, rather than with a deliberate intention to inflate grades.
But Mike Griffiths, headteacher of Northampton School for Boys, who is currently on a sabbatical year as president of the Association of School and College Lecturers (ASCL), said Ofqual’s report was a “shameful attack” on the integrity of teachers.
He said: “My head of department would metaphorically rip the limbs off any Ofqual employee brave enough to tell her that her marking was overly-optimistic. And rightly so.
“It is a crass statement that seeks to undermine still further, if that were possible, the confidence of politicians, employers and parents in the system. It is a shameful attack on the professionalism of my teachers and their integrity and those in hundreds of schools.”
Mr Griffiths said he had “lost all confidence” in Ofqual and said it had let a whole generation of students down and left tens thousands of youngsters with the wrong grades.
Gordon White, county secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said coursework was externally moderated so any issues with teachers over-marking should be picked up before students took their exams.
He said: “Teachers do encourage students to get their best possible grades in their coursework.
“But the coursework is moderated and checks are made for over-marking so any problems should be flagged up.”
Mr Griffiths said the legal action against the GCSE English grades, taken by a consortium of 150 organisations – including Northamptonshire County Council, Caroline Chisholm School and Northampton School for Boys – was “continuing apace”.
He said: “It was an absolute farce in English this year. Those entered for the exam in June 2012 had a much tougher job of getting a C than those in January 2012 or June 2011.”
It is hoped that the legal challenge against Ofqual will be heard in the High Court before Christmas.