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GCSE English – The Story so far. Brian Lightman – General Secretary. Which debate?. Not part of wider debate about qualifications reform, grade inflation etc. Nor is it about relative merits of modular and linear.

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gcse english the story so far

GCSE English – The Story so far

Brian Lightman – General Secretary

which debate
Which debate?.
  • Not part of wider debate about qualifications reform, grade inflation etc.
  • Nor is it about relative merits of modular and linear.
  • It is about integrity of examination system and flawed implementation of new qualification.
  • Enormous and unprecedented school level variations in hundreds of schools of all kinds at all grade boundaries, just this year. Less about overall drop
  • Two separate factors:
    • Jan vs June written exam (and other entry timing).
    • Controlled assessment.
the clamour from schools
The clamour from schools.
  • Well over 1500 responses from schools by beg of term.
  • Floor standards survey 160 say it has taken them below floor target
  • 542 out of 836 respondents said English had depressed their performances against 5*A-C indicator
  • All kinds of schools reporting anomalies – academies, maintained and independent schools including some very high profile and high performing schools.
  • All grade boundaries affected but ‘bell curve effect at C/D
  • Affects all boards but focus has been on AQA as have 60% of entry.
  • Extensive media coverage some of which conflated this issue with wider debate.
the ofqual response
The Ofqual response:
  • ‘The standard set for these English GCSE’s is comparable with the standard in previous years’
  • Fair defined as appropriate percentage across cohort.
  • Examiners ‘had less information to go on, less hard data’
  • Letter to Gove/Wilshaw
    • ‘It is less likely that schools as a whole will be able to evidence improvement with better exam results ,year after year. Unlike in past years, we do not expect to see year-on-year increases in attainment.
  • Ofqual Myths document
the ofqual response continued
The Ofqual response continued
  • ‘Some schools were over-reliant on the January 2012 grade boundaries’
  • Job of setting standards made difficult because:
    • 1. Changes to syllabuses.
    • 2. Nature of English as a subject. ‘English is a difficult subject to assess’ (GS to Select Committee)
    • 3. Structure of the qualifications: ‘Modularisation creates a particular difficulty.’ + ‘high proportion of controlled assessment’
  • Complex GCSE system ‘difficult for schools and colleges to understand’
ofqual supplementary memorandum to select committee
Ofqual supplementary memorandum to Select Committee
  • ‘We can confirm that some of those taking the qualification in this way (sat in June rather than Jan) did worse than they (schools) expected.’
  • This (modular system) means that many of the checks on examiner judgement which would normally be available when awarding grades are not available.
achieving comparable outcomes
Achieving ‘comparable outcomes’
  • ASCL interim response para 5.4:

‘To put it in simple terms if January was too generous then June must have been graded too harshly to compensate.’

  • TES Friday 14th “If Ofqual has found that overall results for 2012 were correct, but January’s were too generous, logic says the June grades must have been too harsh.”
the select committee key arguments presented by ascl
The select committee – key arguments presented by ASCL:
  • Jan June written exam. Graded too generously at first then compensated for by penalising whole of June cohort due to way comparable outcomes implemented.
  • Foundation tier Unit one exam June 11 26.7%, Jan 2012 37% June 2012 10.20%
  • Growing evidence of pressure on awarding bodies to to bring % for grades to match OVERALL expected outcomes. (Edexcel letter).
  • Controlled assessment – confusing advice from boards led to schools marking themselves as what they now realise as harshly - not being allowed to appeal.
  • Flaws in moderation. Inconsistencies in moderators reports. Schools told doing fine. Examples. Complete confusion now reigns.
  • Deeply undermined confidence of teachers to prepare students and of students.
  • Resits not the answer although many students will need to do them.
  • Plus specific examples of effects on school results.
the response from the profession
The response from the profession
  • Nobody wants ‘dumbing down’ but we do want fairness.
  • Two meetings with Ofqual and 3rd one scheduled
  • ASCL letter to SoS
  • ASCL response to interim report
  • ASCL meetings with awarding bodies.
  • ASCL meetings with DfE data team / Ofsted
  • David Blow collating technical analysis – ASCL semi technical paper to be published on Thursday.
  • Case studies in schools.
  • Formation of ‘Alliance’
5 possible remedies
5 Possible remedies
  • Regrading – complex combination of factors involved.
  • Appeals – ASCL has made 3 demands – extension of deadline, waive fees, allow appeals against controlled assessment.
  • Urgent measures to protect integrity of this year’s exams
  • Independent review
  • Legal challenge
  • Qualifications review well underway
  • Education devolved – anger at decisions made in London without consultation or regard to this.
  • Welsh Government report found ‘serious distortion of outcomes’.
  • Pupils resident who took WJEC exam have had grades re-awarded (but not AQA cands from Wales)
  • Ofqual refused to instruct same for WJEC candidates resident in England. Implications!
  • Far reaching implications likely for future of quals in Wales.
specific actions
Specific actions
  • Enquiries about results –letter to Ofqual
    • Deadline
    • Fees
    • Controlled assessment
  • Letters to Ofqual/MPs
  • Petition
  • Legal action
  • Ofsted inspections/ Floor standards/ Forced academisation
  • TUC motion
other issues
Other issues
  • Immediate issue of candidates in school now in years 9, 10 and 11.
  • Incoherent messages from awarding bodies.
  • Lots of wider questions about:
    • Comparable outcomes methodology
    • Implementation of qualifications reform
    • Future of GCSE