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Delay to councils' GCSE legal challenge

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The exams regulator Ofqual has asked for extra time to respond to a legal challenge led by Lewisham LBC and joined by 35 other councils, over this summer’s GCSE English marking fiasco.

The 36 councils, listed below, have joined with 117 schools and 180 pupils in writing to the regulator and the exam boards AQA and Edexcel, threatening to seek a judicial review.


The dispute centres on the downgrading of this summer’s GCSE English exam papers, which the councils claim left many students unfairly receiving lower grades than peers who sat the same exams in January.

They are calling for this summer’s papers to be remarked using the January grade boundaries.

Ofqual, AQA and Edexcel have requested an extra week to respond to the pre-action letter, which says: “It is inconceivable that two cohorts of students enrolled for the same course in the same academic year, who have undertaken the same work and invested the same effort, and who will be competing in future for the same opportunities, should be subjected to such radically different standards of assessment and award.”

In a statement Lewisham’s mayor, Sir Steve Bullock (left), said: “We remain concerned that our young people are paying right now and every day for the mistakes that have been made. But we hope that by allowing the regulator and the exam boards a little more time to consider their position they too will see that this is the only fair thing to do.”

LGC reported earlier this month that councils including Newcastle City Council and Islington LBC – both of which have signed the pre-action letter – were coming under pressure to take legal action over the exam results.

The local authorities that have threatened a judicial review are:

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Bath and North East Somerset
Brighton and Hove City Council
Calderdale MBC
Central Bedfordshire Council
City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Darlington Borough Council
Hartlepool Borough Council
Houslow LBC
Kingston upon Hull City Council
Kirklees Metropolitan Council
Leeds City Council
Leicester City Council
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
London Borough of Brent
London Borough of Camden
London Borough of Ealing
London Borough of Enfield
London Borough of Hackney
London Borough of Islington
London Borough of Lewisham
London Borough of Newham
London Borough of Merton
Manchester City Council
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Northamptonshire County Council
Oldham MBC
Plymouth City Council
Salford City Council
South Gloucestershire
South Tyneside Council
Telford and Wrekin
Wakefield MDC
Warrington Borough Council
Wigan MBC
City of York Council

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