English GCSEs could be harder for pupils


Exams regulator, Ofqual, is proposing making English GCSEs harder to ensure fewer students get top marks, reports The Telegraph.

This would mean around a quarter of pupils taking these exams could fail to get the crucial pass grade as the shakeup would make grades more comparable across subjects.

However, the plans have been met with resistance from teachers who argue this change would be unfair on pupils, according to a report in the Times Educational Supplement (TES).

Under the current plans, those taking subjects seen as easier, such as arts and English, would find it more difficult to get high marks. This would make comparisons across art and science subjects much easier.

The proposal is one of a number of options being analysed for GCSE and A-levels. Another option includes making it easier for harder subjects to receive As and A*s. There is also the possibility to make no changes to the current system.

An analysis conducted for Ofqual, based on 2013 results, shows that under this new model, GCSE English - a 'lenient' subject - would see results fall from 64 per cent of pupils gaining a C or above to 46 per cent - a drop of 28 per cent.

At A-level, English, seen as a 'lenient' subject, would see results fall from 78 per cent to 65 per cent, while among 'severe' subjects, physics would see results rise from 74 per cent to 88 per cent.

Paul Clayton, the director of the National Association for the Teaching of English, told TES: "Students have always had to work hard for good grades in English; and with the introduction of the new GCSEs this year, they will have to work harder still.

"To move the goalposts yet again, in order to achieve some spurious sense of parity with other subjects, may well have catastrophic effects on student motivation."

Jenny Stevens, a former head of English told an Ofqual conference last week that the reform "would have a devastating effect".

Ofqual is expected to examine the options and decide what option it favours by September.