A* award prompts both answers and anguish

27th August 2010 at 01:00

Last week's Comment piece by Geoff Lucas of The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) repeats past criticisms of technical aspects of the awarding of the new A* grade ("Which A* unfairness is least unfair?").

The comments were made in the previous edition of The TES before the A-level awards were known. The criticisms were reiterated in a letter from HMC to Ofqual, which answered them in full in advance of your paper going to press with the comment piece. A full record of the exchange of correspondence is available on the Ofqual website at: http:bit.lyczuGOs.

However, I still feel the need to write to you and for the benefit of your readers. The technical basis for awarding the A* grade was fair and transparent. Ofqual welcomes robust challenge and questioning from HMC, as from other organisations representing teachers and headteachers. But it is misleading to candidates and their teachers and families to repeat points at this time that have already been fully answered.

For the avoidance of doubt, 8.1 per cent of A-level entries this year were awarded the new A* grade. This is a higher figure than Ofqual's prediction, based on 2009 results, of 6.8 per cent; 18 per cent of A-level entries from independent schools received the A* grade.

Sandra Burslem, Deputy chair, Ofqual, London.

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