Pupils in Wales could be awarded higher grades in their English language GCSEs than students in England who got the same mark, after the Cardiff government ordered changes to the results of exams sat in the country’s schools.

In August, schools found that grade boundaries in the subject had moved suddenly, leaving their pupils with unexpectedly bad results. It emerged this week that this was, in part, because of action by Ofqual, the qualifications regulator for England.

WJEC, the Welsh exam board, was one of two exam boards told to raise grade boundaries by Ofqual, and shifted boundaries in Wales too. But in that country, it is the Welsh government that has responsibility for regulating exam boards.

After a review, Leighton Andrews, Welsh education minister, ordered a reversal for candidates in Wales, asking the WJEC “to re-award its GCSE English Language.” Pupils who sat the WJEC examinations at a school in England would not benefit from the remark.

Ofqual has refused to back down from its previous position, leaving WJEC split between its two regulators. The exam board has said: “We now find one regulator confirming that the decision made was correct, and another asking us to regrade, reversing the previous joint decision.”

Glenys Stacey, chief executive of Ofqual, appeared at the education select committee on Tuesday. She said that, if the regulator had not acted, “I think we were looking at 6 per cent or 7 per cent inflation” [in the number of children getting grade C or above].

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