Universities urged to have mercy on grading victims

15th March 2013 at 00:00

Elite universities should show leniency to students who missed out on top grades as a result of last summer's GCSE English grading scandal, according to a leading head.

Association of School and College Leaders president Mike Griffiths (pictured) will today tell the union's annual conference that thousands of students who unexpectedly ended up with a B instead of an A could be denied places at leading universities.

The change in grade boundaries between January and June last year could lead to a "second injustice" if the affected students, due to sit their final A-level exams in 2014, end up being "automatically ... consigned to the 'reject' pile", he will say.

In February, the High Court ruled that exams regulator Ofqual and the AQA and Edexcel exam boards had acted within the law in altering the grade boundaries.

But Mr Griffiths will say that the "story has not ended" for many students. "There were victims other than at the C-D borderline. It will impact on their futures, too," he will say.

Mr Griffiths will announce his intention to write to the Russell Group of leading universities, "asking that they avoid a second injustice on the 2012 cohort". "At my school there are five boys who achieved an A or A* in all subjects, apart from, against expectations, English language. I want to be able to reassure them."

Mike Sewell, the University of Cambridge's admissions director, told TES he wanted to "reassure" schools that it would take the impact of the grading scandal into account when offering places. Mr Sewell said Cambridge is "very much aware that for this particular cohort there will be a problem (for some students)".

"I can see where the concerns would come from, but I think we would want to reassure (schools) that we would view each application holistically," he added.

A Russell Group spokeswoman said its members do not admit students "purely on previous attainment, although that is quite rightly a key consideration".

"Russell Group universities already take a range of factors into account to ensure that we can identify the candidates with the most talent and potential to excel on our courses, whatever their social or educational background," she added.

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