first report of session 2013-14, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence
Author: Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Education Committee
Publisher: Stationery Office
The 2012 GCSE English results prompted significant controversy, which ultimately resulted in an application for judicial review. This report sets out the background to these events and identifies lessons to be learned. The problems with GCSE English can be traced back to the 2007-09 development phase of the qualification- in particular the turbulence which resulted from the shift away from a mostly linear to a modular system, combined with a high proportion of controlled assessment and generous marking tolerances. Exam board experts raised concerns at the time, but these were not acted upon by the regulator (the then-interim Ofqual). Further difficulties arose because of pressures from the school accountability system. The problems experienced with GCSE English in 2012 highlighted serious weaknesses in the moderation of speaking and listening, with consequences for grade awarding. The current status of Ofqual, as an independent regulator accountable to Parliament, is the right one. However, the Coalition Government is bringing in wholesale changes to GCSEs and A levels, to a tight timetable and at the same time. Ofqual must have systems in place. The Committee is also concerned that there is a rush towards separate exam systems for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, without careful reflection on what might be lost, or consensus that this is the right thing to do.