Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Notes on a Similar Scandal: The 2002 A-Level Fiasco: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Notes on a Similar Scandal: The 2002 A-Level Fiasco: News

Article excerpt

Ofqual has important questions to answer about its role in the English GCSE fiasco, according to the man who led the official inquiry into the country's last major exam grading scandal. Sir Mike Tomlinson (pictured) scrutinised the actions of the former Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) when he reported on the A-level grading controversy of 2002 and believes the same should now happen with its successor exams regulator.

The ex-chief schools inspector said that Ofqual, which published its own report last Friday, has left "a whole series of questions" unanswered. "It is always a problem if the body that investigates the issue might have played a part in creating the issue," he said.

"The question that has not been answered that was key in the A-level inquiry is: 'What advice and guidance did the regulator give the exam boards?'," he continued. "I can't believe they gave none. And to what extent was that advice influential in the grade boundary decisions?"

The questions came as a former principal GCSE English examiner for AQA, the exam board at the centre of the controversy, claimed that his recommendations on grade boundaries on an earlier qualification had been "routinely ignored".

Sir Mike said the A-level scandal - which led to the sacking of QCA chairman Sir William Stubbs and contributed to the resignation of Estelle Morris as education secretary - was "very similar" to this year's controversy. Both were triggered by schools being presented with unexpectedly low grades for new modular exams, which had at one point threatened serious grade inflation. …

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