Socialist Worker

Tory attack on GCSE grades will hit young people's futures

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2317

School students across Britain are reeling today as many discover they have been awarded lower GCSE grades than expected, particularly in English.

This is because of last minute changes to the grading of GCSEs. The government has been complaining about “grade inflation”—and has piled pressure on exam boards to mark students down.

For years the Tories refused to celebrate improving pass rates for school exams. Instead they have attacked exams for being too easy.

This week education secretary Michael Gove blamed teachers for “competitive dumbing down” and talked about abolishing GSCEs entirely.

This arbitrary and ideologically driven change will impact on the futures of thousands of young people. One English teacher spoke to Socialist Worker from her London school, where students were being informed of their results.

“What the government has done is utterly outrageous,” she said. “They have changed the goalposts at the last moment.”


“The students who are hit the most are on the borderline between a C and a D. Schools are obsessed about these grades because of league tables.

“But every student who misses a C, it makes a big difference to their futures. What Gove has done will reduce young people’s opportunities.”

Gove’s move will also lead to more schools being judged as “failing” because they haven’t met the percentage target of students getting A-C grades in English and maths.

Last year 107 schools fell below the target. This year the benchmark has been raised from 35 percent to 40 percent. More schools will be threatened with closure, or forcible conversion into an academy.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the teachers NUT union, said the changes were “extremely irresponsible”. She added they “in no way reflect the work of students and teachers and are clearly unfair”.

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Thu 23 Aug 2012, 13:30 BST
Issue No. 2317
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