The Courts Rule Supreme

Some headmasters are reportedly bitterly disappointed that the High Court has decided to reject the bid to overturn certain of last year’s GCSE exam grades. Hundreds were involved in an alliance, including local authorities, schools, teachers, and unions, in going to law in support of pupils who did not get the grades they wanted last summer (particularly in English). Late last year, Wales did indeed intervene to re-grade some GCSE English results.

Located in central London the High Court deals with high value or cases of high importance. I assume therefore that this was deemed to be an ‘important’ case. What a travesty.

The idea that exam boards and regulators should be legally forced to regrade students’ results is an aberration, an abomination. Apart from the enormous time and resources spent on this failed legal bid, goodness knows what the total cost will turn out to be.

What happened was simply that the exam boards set a ‘bit too easy’ an exam standard in January but corrected that in June. Those who complained should understand that it is the kids who passed in January who were the lucky ones, not the ones in June who were unlucky, or unfairly treated, or mistreated or hard done by. It is said that 10 thousand kids were hoping for a C grade but didn’t get it.

It would have been a different matter if the boards had ‘artificially’ set a higher than correct standard later in the year to offset the earlier mistakes in a statistical fix, but that is not the case as board boundaries were based on an academic judgement.

It could be compared to a situation where say drivers doing 37mph in a town escape prosecution one month, but the following month after the police have correctly recalibrated their radar gun, drivers doing 35mph instead of 30 were done – not wrongly treated were they!

This issue comes on top of a widely held belief that some GCSEs like English are below par and consequently children pass with flying colours when in fact they are barely literate! The kids who failed last summer need to raise their standard and their teachers should spend more time teaching and getting them to the minimum C grade standard and less time looking up law books to make a legal challenge to try to disguise their failures and get their pupils grades they did not deserve. The regulators at least got it right this time! [and at last the courts have used some commonsense].

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