From education to employment

John Denham joins calls for inquiry into Ofqual’s GCSE exam regulation

Calls have been made for an independent inquiry into qualifications regulator Ofqual’s grading of this year’s GCSEs.

John Denham, former secretary of state at the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills, who initially chose Ofqual as the independent regulator, has requested the inquiry after the fall in English GCSE grades was not thoroughly explained in their recent report.

The English GCSE is vital for continued further education, entry into sixth forms, universities, and apprenticeships, with grade C a finite requirement for almost all types of employment. This grade was an understood and accepted minimal level of education in English, making this year’s results a harsh blow to the prospects of students across the UK.

Speaking before the adjournment debate in Westminster yesterday, Denham said: “Sadly, the guarantee of independence has not guaranteed the quality of work required to gain public confidence.”

After Ofqual’s interim report failed to explain the cause of so many reduced grades, particularly from schools with “good or excellent track records”, Denham stated that only an independent inquiry would “get to the bottom of what went wrong and bring some justice to the students who have been unfairly treated”.

Speaking of his home city of Southampton, he revealed that almost 140 students “failed to achieve the C grades or better that they were predicted to achieve”.

The worst part, it seems, is that some students appear to have been misled as to the kind of work they should have been producing. Students were denied the possibility to even help themselves, and worse still, they have been labouring under false expectations.

“These students delivered everything their teachers and the exam boards asked them to do,” said Denham.

“Across the country thousands of students are in a similar position. Some have been forced to change courses and colleges or to give up apprenticeships. Others have simply turned their back on education, bitter at the way they have been treated.”

Denham attacked the Education Secretary Michael Gove for his failure to address the grading problem appropriately. He said the Secretary made no attempt to recall marks after accusing the Welsh Government’s decision to regrade GCSE’s irresponsible, and damaging to children’s education. It is suggested that Gove’s lack of explicit action is a considered move to increase party political favour for his new baccalaureate system.

“Ofqual’s failure to explain the unexpected results has allowed the Secretary of State to ignore blithely the damage this summer’s GCSEs have done to many students,” said Denham.

Daisy Atkinson

(Pictured: Former BIS Shadow Secretary John Denham)

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