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Legal action launched over GCSE row

Legal action over this summer's GCSE English fiasco has been launched by an alliance of pupils, schools and councils.

Papers have been served on England's exams regulator Ofqual, as well as the AQA and Edexcel awarding bodies, the alliance announced.

The documents set out their case for a regrading of GCSE English papers taken by pupils this summer.

The alliance is challenging a decision by the exam boards to raise the boundary needed to get a grade C between January and June, as well as what they claim was a failure by Ofqual to address the situation.

The alliance claims that, as a result of the decisions, an estimated 10,000 pupils who took their English GCSE exam in June missed out on a C grade.

The statement of claim submitted to the High Court says: "The decisions have prejudiced the life chances of thousands of children. The immediate effects of the decisions include children being unable to progress in education, losing vocational opportunities and jobs, and being unable to gain employment.

"The children affected by the decisions were entitled to be treated in a fair, consistent and rational manner by the defendants. They were not. The decisions are incompatible with the most elementary principles of fairness, rationality and good administration. They are unlawful and should be quashed."

The alliance includes 167 pupils, as well as 150 schools, and 42 councils from around the country as well as six professional bodies.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: "The alliance has reviewed the evidence carefully and we remain convinced that thousands of young people were unfairly downgraded in June in order to compensate for mistakes made earlier in the year. The only fair course of action for these students is to regrade the papers."

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "This exam shambles has gone on far too long. It is completely unacceptable that those representing teachers, parents and pupils have to resort to the courts to get fair GCSE grades."

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