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GCSE safety net created

MINISTERS have allowed an extra grade to be created on the higher GCSE paper as a safety net for borderline candidates who would otherwise get an "unclassified" grading.

Candidates entered for the higher papers who fail to get a D do not qualify for an alphabetical grade while those who take the lower paper can get a C to a G.

But schools and exam boards have persuaded ministers to allow higher paper candidates who just miss a D to be awarded an E.

Exam boards now fear there could be chaos if schools take last-minute decisions to enter more pupils at the higher level. One science teacher said: "There will be many teachers who would have entered students for the higher paper if they had known it would cover grades A to E."

A GCSE Joint Forum spokesman said: "This is a positive step for those very few candidates who have been entered for an inappropriate tier. There is absolutely no need for any entries to be changed."

A Qualifications and Curriculum Authority spokeswoman said: "It is a safety net to protect the interests of a small number of candidates that was lobbied for by schools and examining boards."

Heather James, assistant chief executive of Northern Examinations and Assessment Board, said a review of tiering was needed.

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