Head slams ‘harsher’ marking in GCSE exam

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A headteacher has criticised the government for using teachers as ‘a political football’ as a national row erupted over the marking of GCSE English exam papers.

Kings Langley School leader Gary Lewis spoke out as results were released on Thursday which showed the school’s overall English language grades have dropped by 10 per cent.

This is despite the Love Lane school’s overall five A-to-C grades rising to 81 per cent, compared to 74 per cent in 2011.

Mr Lewis, who also represents all headteachers in Dacorum, said: “I have some of the best English teachers who have delivered excellent results year in year out and they have dropped 10 per cent this year.

“I have got English teachers here almost in tears because they don’t know what they have done wrong when in fact they have done nothing wrong, they are just being used as a political football.”

Teachers up and down the country have suggested that this summer’s papers were marked too harshly, with some complaining that exam boards had substantially increased grade boundaries, leaving pupils with lower results than expected. The outcry comes as GCSE results have declined in England for the first time in the exams 24-year history.

Mr Lewis said: “I think it is ridiculous because teachers and children can only work with the tools they are given and then to say you are going to move grade boundaries is palpably unfair.

“If I was a young teacher, starting now it is 100 times more difficult than when I started in 1980. I have got young teachers working themselves to death.

“It seems to be almost failure to accept that it could be schools getting better, believing instead it must be things getting easier.”

His view was backed by Stuart Plunkett, the deputy head at Astley Cooper School – who said: “They have moved the goalposts. We will have a moan about it.

“We have quite a few kids who are D/C borderline and we usually get them to the C but if they move the boundaries at the last minute it’s a problem.”

It has been announced that exams regulator Ofqual will be looking at the exam gradings.

For a round-up of the GCSE results turn to pages 20 & 21