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The three teaching unions have all commented on today's announcement by the secretary of state for education, Estel...
The three teaching unions have all commented on today's announcement by the secretary of state for education, Estelle Morris, that an independent inquiry will be carried out into the A-level marking system*. This follows accusations that awarding bodies downgraded this year's A-level results.

Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, said:

'I welcome the steps taken by the education secretary and her decision to hold an independent inquiry. Whatever that inquiry reveals, there can be no doubt that some young people have been let down seriously by unacceptable intervention in the assessment process.

'Such intervention damages the future prospects of young people as well as the credibility of the examination system. It also places a huge question mark over the government's target-based approach to so many aspects of the education service particularly the current payment by results system for teachers' pay.

'I cannot believe that the education secretary would seek to downgrade the achievement of students since the government claims that the improvement in achievement is due to its own policies.'

David Hart, general secretary of the NAHT comments as follows:

'The secretary of state's decision is a victory for common sense and recognition that QCA's position was untenable. The pressure applied by head teachers has led to belated justice for this year's students and to the real possibility that there will be reforms for the future, that will prevent this year's fiasco being repeated.'

Gwen Evans, deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said:

'We welcome the secretary of state's statement, and her reassurance that there will be an independent inquiry. We find her clarification of the respective roles of government, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and the awarding bodies helpful and see the secretary of state's determination to get to the bottom of this undoubted problem as a positive move.

'The government cannot absolve themselves of all blame. The buck must stop ultimately with the former secretary of state, David Blunkett, who rushed the new system through without sufficient trialling. Estelle Morris has now been left to clear this mess up.

'That there have been as few mistakes as there have is due to the sheer hard work of teachers and to the superhuman efforts of the awarding bodies. Mistakes do happen and will go on happening. This episode should warn the government of how overloaded the assessment system has become, something they are still choosing to ignore even now.'

* See LGCnet.

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