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Ofqual will investigate GCSE gradings
Ofqual admitted there were "questions about how grade boundaries were set in a very small number of units across the year". The move comes amid threats of legal action from local authorities and teachers.
It was revealed this week that the proportion of GCSEs - taken by pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - awarded an A*-C grade had fallen for the first time in 24 years.
In a letter to the National Association of Head Teachers, Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey wrote: "We recognise the continuing concerns among students, parents and teachers about this year's GCSE English results. We will look closely at how the results were arrived at. We will do this quickly, but thoroughly, so that we ensure confidence is maintained in our examinations system."
Ms Stacey said she expected to gather evidence over the next week and that Ofqual would then meet awarding bodies to discuss its findings. A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We welcome this move."
In an open letter to Education Secretary Michael Gove and Ofqual on Friday, the National Association of Head Teachers suggested grade boundaries in English had been "significantly altered" during the year in response to fears the pass rate would rise again. The union said it had been "inundated" with calls from schools about the situation, and urged Mr Gove to establish an independent inquiry.