THE heads of all Southampton’s secondary schools are calling for city residents to join the fight for justice for teenagers who unfairly missed out on crucial GCSE grades because of controversial unannounced changes in marking.
The leaders of the city’s 12 secondaries and academies have signed up to a petition demanding the Government hold a full inquiry into the debacle over this year’s English results.
And they want the support of Southampton residents, whether parents or not.
As reported, 136 teenagers in the city were among thousands across the country affected by exam boards shifting grade boundaries halfway through the course.
Leaked letters have revealed watchdog Ofqual pressurised the boards to ensure there was an end to socalled grade inflation.
The move meant many youngsters missed out on crucial C grades, in some cases despite achieving higher scores than others who took papers earlier.
Heads fear that it has had a major negative impact on life chances as for many the missing grades meant they were unable to take up places on their chosen college courses or apprenticeships.
More than 45,000 students will next month resit their English GCSEs after exam boards – who have insisted they acted fairly – offered them a compromise.
But Graham Wilson, the head at St George Catholic College, who is leading Southampton’s representation in a joint legal challenge brought by councils and unions, said 160,000 youngsters had been affected by the debacle.
He said: “That shows already that thousands of children are disenfranchised.
“The ones affected tend to be the types of children who are on the margins of society, so there’s a double effect and they probably won’t engage in English again in their lives.
“We did all this work to get them to believe in themselves for the first time, and then the results meant they could just turn around and say ‘we told you so’.
“We heads all represent Southampton children and we can see there’s such an injustice now between schools based on when we entered our children (into the exams) that we all feel it’s unfair.
“At an inquiry all the facts will be established, and then it might be more difficult to deny these children and what they’re entitled to.”
Ruth Evans, head at Cantell Maths and Computing College and new chair of the Southampton Secondary Heads Forum, called for as many people as possible to back the Downing Street petition, which needs 100,000 signatures to force an inquiry.
Click here to sign the petition.