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Last Updated: Monday, 25 April, 2005, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Row over summer exam results hype
students celebrating results
Results coverage is an annual summer ritual
Exam regulators are trying to stop annual media talk of "dumbing down" undermining students' GCSE, A-level and other achievements.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) dislikes the way the national results are issued to news organisations in August.

They are released on the same day that students get their individual results.

But the boards say the results are their business and the way they are issued has nothing to do with the QCA.

Their results for England, Wales and Northern Ireland are normally issued together, through a joint council, and planning is already underway for this year's event.

'Difficulties'

The issue was raised at the QCA's board meeting in September, the BBC News website has discovered.

The assessment agency's director of exams management, Mick Walker, said there were "operating difficulties and weaknesses" in the delivery of general qualifications.

The QCA can have whatever meetings and discussions it likes about the annual results - it's nothing to do with them
OCR exam board spokesman
These were "primarily the timing of the public issue of results" and the management of the process by the Joint Council for Qualifications.

Minutes of the board's next meeting, in November, show members felt the "intense media interest in the results and the inevitable debate on whether standards are being maintained" could "undermine student achievement".

It added: "The NAA should negotiate alternative options with the unitary awarding bodies for possible introduction in 2005."

The "awarding bodies" involved are the big English exam boards, AQA, OCR and Edexcel; the WJEC in Wales and Northern Ireland's CCEA.

A spokesperson for Edexcel said: "I can confirm that the boards through JCQ are planning a press conference for 2005 and planning has started for that".

It would be, as usual, the day before the results are published to allow the media to prepare their stories.

A spokesman for OCR was more forthright.

"The QCA can have whatever meetings and discussions it likes about the annual results - it's nothing to do with them," he said.

The results were produced by the awarding bodies of the United Kingdom for the children of the United Kingdom.

"We hold a press conference in order to inform the media about those results," he said.

"They are ours. We will decide how we deliver those results.

"They can have as many meetings and minutes as they like but the data is ours: we run the exams and we deliver the results."

There was no immediate comment from the QCA.

The scheduled publication dates for this year's results are 18 August for A-levels and 25 August for GCSE-level qualifications.




SEE ALSO:
A-levels show rise in top grades
19 Aug 04 |  Education
Top GCSE pass rates levelling off
25 Jan 05 |  Education


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