The House of Commons Education Committee has published its report today on the 2012 GCSE English results. This sets out the background and identifies lessons to be learned at a time of further exam reform.
The Select Committee found that:
- the original design of new English GCSEs led to the problems in 2012
- when the qualification was developed in 2007-9, there was a shift away from a mostly linear approach to modular. There was also a high proportion of controlled assessment and generous marking tolerances. The Committee noted that exam board experts raised concerns at the time, but these were not acted upon by the then regulator
- further difficulties arose because of pressures from the school accountability system. The problems experienced with GCSE English in 2012 highlighted in particular serious weaknesses in the moderation of speaking and listening
- the exams regulator Ofqual and exam boards need to learn lessons and ensure that these difficulties are not repeated
- Ofqual must have systems in place to anticipate problems, and be prepared to step in if it believes it necessary
- public confidence has taken a knock as a result of this issue, so future reforms need to rebuild public trust, put students' interests first and deliver truly world-class examinations.
The Committee was also concerned about the "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."
AQA is acutely aware of the distress caused to candidates who were disappointed by their GCSE English results last summer. We, the other boards and Ofqual have all learned lessons from what happened, and are working together to ensure that the design of future exams avoids these problems.
Download the report from the Education Committee's website.