EDUCATION – EXAMINATION GRADE INFLATION – 26 June 2012

Dr Julian Lewis: I am very grateful to the Chairman of the Education Committee [Graham Stuart] for giving me the opportunity to ask the question that I was hoping to ask of the Secretary of State. Given that both sides now seem to accept that there has been a problem of grade inflation, could we pay a little bit of attention to the marks that underlie the grades? One of the problems that I felt many years ago with the introduction of grades for O-levels, rather than marks, was that it did not matter if somebody got 70%, 80% or 90%: anybody who reached a certain level – 70%, I think – still got the same top grade. This was the beginning of an inflationary process. Would not the stating of actual marks –

[Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Thank you. That is quite enough. That is a very long intervention in a very short debate.

Graham Stuart: Fortunately, my hon. Friend takes me to the issue I wanted to address next, which is the administration of examinations. Unfortunately, however, I am unable to comment on that now. The Education Committee has conducted a long inquiry into precisely that issue, looking at the trade-offs between a single board, competition between boards, franchising by subject and various other ways of cutting it. We have concluded our report, but because of the examination season – whoever leaked this story to the press last week was obviously less sensitive than us to the fact that children were taking exams – we decided to delay the publication of our report until 3 July. So, I am afraid that, until then, I cannot engage in that issue. However, we have looked at it in depth, and I hope I am not in contempt of Parliament if I say that the Committee came up with a unanimous recommendation and report. I hope that those on both sides of the House will wait until at least 3 July before allowing any of their opinions to solidify further.]