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Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Saturday, 25 August 2012 09:38 UK

Pressure on Gove to hold GCSE grade inquiry

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The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, is coming under more pressure to hold an inquiry into this summer's GCSE results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A leading teaching union says it's been "inundated" with calls from schools concerned that candidates expecting a C in English ended up with a D.

The former Labour education secretary, Charles Clarke, told the Today programme that the government had made a serious error. "The reform's been very badly and unfairly carried out from the various commentaries there've been.

"The goal of education policy should be to increase education attainment and achievement for children and young people right across the whole range.

"I think government intervention can help to do that and I think improving performances, which reflect the improving quality of children, their better learning, their better abilities, is something that should be desired and Michael Gove's apparent view, that actually you want to somehow drive that increase in attainment down or backwards, I think is a serious educational policy mistake."

But Lady Pauline Perry, who speaks on education for the Conservatives in the House of Lords, said the current system needed to change, telling Today presenter that "the constant inflation of the number of people getting good grades could not go on forever.

"I mean that seems to me to be unfair just to the kids who are doing extremely well, and if you think of it like a race, for example, or like something in the Olympics, you do need to be able to have your gold medallists and your silver medallists and your bronze medallists and so on, and that was beginning to be badly eroded, almost everybody got a prize.

"Equally, of course, the exam was failing for the other half because about 40% of young people didn't get their five good GCSEs and consequently had very little to show for the ten years of education that they'd had, so the exams did need a very radical reform. Having said that, of course, it has been very, very controversial at the point at which the axe came down, so to speak."


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