‘Unfair exams’ HMC Chairman, Dr Chris Ray’s letter to the Telegraph

HMC Chairman and High Master of The Manchester Grammar School, Dr Chris Ray's wrote to the Telegraph 16/02/13, following last week's high court ruling on the marking of last summer’s GCSE English exams.

SIR – It should be no surprise that Ofqual has been exonerated by a High Court ruling that the marking of last summer’s GCSE English exams may have been unfair but was not unlawful (report, February 13).

Schools doing battle over results with the examination industry find it immensely hard to win appeals when the dice are loaded against the interests of pupils. The Code of Practice for Awarding Bodies (in other words, examination boards), overseen by Ofqual, makes it nigh impossible for any challenge based on the probability of poor marking to succeed.

Awarding bodies hide behind this code, defying schools to find fault with process. The Secretary of State for Education has welcomed the serious concerns expressed by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) and others about the unreliability of our public examinations, but says they are a matter for Ofqual, which is of course responsible to Parliament.

Until Ofqual takes our concerns seriously, at least by working with us and others to rewrite the code, pupils will continue to be penalised by a system that puts adherence to process above the quality of marking.

Until the Secretary of State takes personal responsibility for the mechanisms by which fair marks may be awarded, I fear his best intentions will be undermined.

HMC stands prepared to work with Ofqual, the Department for Education and anyone else to improve the landscape of assessment.

Dr Christopher Ray
Chairman, The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference
High Master, Manchester Grammar School

Click here to read the letter © The Telegraph.