UK & World News

  • 13 February 2013, 10:57

Pupils Lose Legal Challenge Over GCSE Grades

Hundreds of pupils and schools who united in an unprecedented legal challenge over GCSE exam grades have lost their High Court bid.

Judges ruled that exam boards and the regulator Ofqual had not acted unlawfully by making changes to English grading levels last year.

The alliance, which also included scores of local councils and teaching unions, sought a judicial review after grade boundaries were hiked by 10 marks between January and June.

It accused AQA and Edexcel of an "illegitimate grade manipulation" and "statistical fix" involving Ofqual and called for the papers to be remarked.

But the claim was dismissed by Lord Justice Elias and Mrs Justice Sharp, sitting in London.

Lord Justice Elias said Ofqual had appreciated there were features that had operated unfairly and proposed numerous changes to avoid future problems.

But he added: "I am satisfied that it was indeed the structure of the qualification itself which is the source of such unfairness ... and not any unlawful action by either Ofqual or the AOs (exam boards)."

The alliance told a hearing in December that around 10,000 pupils who took the exam in June had missed out on a C grade because of the changes.

Clive Sheldon QC argued they had "worked well and hard" but had been unjustifiably "clobbered" because of an Ofqual instruction to avoid grade inflation.

Statistical predictions had indicated too many would achieve at least a C so it was decided to raise the boundaries, the court was told.

Mr Sheldon argued that the prediction was used as a "straitjacket", leading to "conspicuous unfairness and an abuse of power".

He called for the pupils who sat exams in June to be treated consistently with those who took them earlier in the year.