'It will stick with me. I'll always feel angry'

Pupils hit by the GCSE grading controversy give us their views

Helen Ward

The grading of English GCSEs this year has been beset by scandal, with headteachers claiming that many thousands of pupils have missed out on the grades they deserve. As the fallout continued, TES spoke to pupils from two of the schools affected.

Shannon Poole, 17, of Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy, Birtley, Co Durham. Predicted to gain a BC grade in GCSE English, but received a D. Of Shannon's 13 GCSEs, all but English and maths were at grade C or above.

"I got a B in my mock exam, so that was my target result. I was really devastated when the results came out. I actually cried. It was horrible.

"I was fortunate enough that the school is understanding and able to help me to start on the subjects I had wanted to do. I'm doing A levels in health and social care, applied science and textiles.

"It does feel really unfair, especially as we did (Welsh exam board) WJEC exams. It means we did the same exam as students in Wales. We could get higher marks but still not get the grade C that they get.

"I'm nervous about doing the resit. The D grade is really a knock-back and I don't feel confident in my English. I think that will always be something that sticks at the back of my mind. I'll always feel angry about it."

Devon Parkin, 16, of Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy. Predicted to gain a grade C, but received a D.

"I've got 14 GCSEs - I did some in Year 10 - and got a C on all of them, except English. My parents said, 'Well, you could have got a C on that one as well', but when I told them what had happened, with the marks needed for the grade being changed, they understood.

"Then they were a bit angry on my behalf. The head and the teachers were angry, too. They want something to be done."

Avinash Balaggan, 16, of Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy. Predicted to achieve a grade C, but received a D. Of Avinash's 12 GCSEs, English was the only one in which he did not gain a grade C or higher. He is now studying for A levels in ICT, PE and applied science.

"My teachers had told me that, based on the (internally marked) controlled assessment, I would get a grade C. I was shocked and quite angry when I got a D.

"I'm still a bit annoyed. I'm in two minds about the resit: even though I do want to get it, I feel I should have got a C in the first place. Now I'm having to revise and go to two lessons a week in English GCSE. I'm studying for something that I think I've already passed."

Madison Hewitson, 16, of King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Predicted to get grade A, but received a B. She is now studying for A levels in physics, chemistry, biology and psychology.

"I was really disappointed because I want to go into veterinary medicine and it's very competitive. To have an A in English would boost me - I'd be more likely to get in. I am going to look at having it re-marked. If that comes out the same, I think I'll retake it."

Brad Gosling, 16, of King Edward VI School. Predicted to achieve two Cs in English literature and language, but received two Ds.

"I don't want to retake because I don't want to make up for a mistake that AQA made. They should fix it, they should re-mark the papers.

"The school has let me into the sixth form. I'm studying four A levels: PE, ICT, biology and product design.

"I've always had problems with English because I have a speech impediment. I couldn't hold a pen properly until I was five and people struggled to understand me, so I would get upset and depressed.

"The idea of the English Baccalaureate Certificate is really stupid. Why muck up people's exams and then change it? Why not just keep the GCSE and sort out the grade boundaries?"

Zac Shaw, 16, of King Edward VI School. Predicted to gain two Bs in English literature and language, but received two Cs.

"I wanted to take English at A level and was hoping for a B because that's the minimum requirement. I'm good at art and media but English was the only academic subject that I was hoping for a higher grade than a C in, because I'm sort of average at maths, science and the rest.

"When I got my grade I thought my chances of doing English A level at sixth form were ruined. I spoke to the school and they said it was OK to do the course because I was predicted a B.

"But on a personal level, before I got that mark I was confident that I could do the English A level; when I got that C it knocked my confidence. I'm not retaking it because I'm doing A level, but it's irritating. I know I was capable."

Now I'm having to revise. I'm studying for something that I think I've already passed.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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