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Thousands demand reversal of changes to performing arts qualification grading

Opposers to the changes claim it could mean many students face receiving lower grades than they had expected. Photo: Shutterstock
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More than 8,000 people have signed a petition calling on exam board Pearson to reverse last-minute changes to grade boundaries for a BTEC qualification in performing arts.

Opposers to the changes claim it could mean many students face receiving lower grades than they had expected.

Pearson announced last week that it was increasing the grade boundaries for its BTEC Tech Awards, that are intended to be taught alongside GCSEs for 14 to 16 year olds.

Under the changes, the marks needed to pass the level two qualification have risen from 69 to 72 per cent, and the grade boundary for a merit has risen from 82 to 95.

According to the petition, this means that many students now face receiving lower grades than they were anticipating when they pick up their BTEC Tech Awards results today (August 21).

The vocational qualification is designed to offer students “a glimpse into a professional sector” and has a course strand for the performing arts. Others include health and social care, engineering, enterprise and media.

The petition, that was started by health and social care teachers, said: “Following information distributed by Pearson on August 16, students receiving their results next week face lower grades than they have rightfully earned based on the exam board’s decision to increase the grade boundaries.

“This means that most students will receive one grade lower than what they have achieved.”

It adds: “Due to the lack of organisation and information shared with teachers and organisations about these changes, many students have missed an opportunity to resit the exam as they believed, and were guided using Pearson’s own grade calculator, that their grades were secure.”

The petition calls on the grade boundaries to be changed from next year, but to be kept the same for this year’s cohort.

A spokeswoman for Pearson said that the changes had been made to ensure the grades were comparable with other level two vocational qualifications and GCSEs.

She said: “It is important that we made these changes now, to ensure that outcomes are fair and completely in line with expectations for the cohort as a whole.

“Even after making these changes, BTEC students across the cohort have performed very well. All students can be confident that they have received a fair and accurate grade that reflects their hard work and ability.”

Details of how many students took the qualification will be available with the full release of the results in October.

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