GCSE exam row using students for political football
PUPILS are being used as a "political football" according to a Cheltenham headteacher following the complaints over exam results.
Teachers complained the goalposts were moved too late after the marking schedule for English exams changed in January.
Despite union pressure England's exams regulator, Ofqual, decided not to re-grade the papers.
Headteacher Neil Hall, from Winchcombe School, said he feared pupils were being caught up in a political fight.
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He said his school's GCSE English results bucked the trend and were better than last year – with 80 per cent of the students achieving A* to C grades.
However, he said many of the pupils did not achieve the high grades as predicted.
He said: "We were down on the number of A*s compared to those predicted and that could be because they did move the target.
"But I do feel the pupils have been used as a political football.
"I will be watching carefully what happens and I have expressed concern through the National Association of Head Teachers about the discrepancy in what was predicted for students compared to the outcome.
"Overall our pupils were pretty happy with their results and got enough to continue with what they wanted to go on to, but we still do think the goalposts were moved too late."
Education secretary Michael Gove has faced tough questions over the changes.
He said yesterday he had "enormous sympathy for pupils who sat English this year" and conceded "it was not quite the right way" of assessment.
Mr Gove said in the Commons yesterday there was a need to "learn lessons about some of the mistakes that were made" in introducing modular GCSE English exams "not best equipped to ensure that all students could perform well and be treated fairly".
Trade unions have threatened legal action over the issue, but exams regulator Ofqual has said it would be inappropriate for either of the sets of exams to be reconsidered.
Mr Gove was put into the frame by the Labour party's shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg, who concluded he had made errors.
He said Mr Gove was trying to make reforms far too quickly, causing mistakes and problems which were damaging children's education.
Mr Twigg added he wanted an independent inquiry into the controversy over this summer's GCSE English results.
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