Ofqual plans £175k fine for English GCSE error

Exam board OCR could be fined £175,000 for a mistake in last year’s GCSE English literature exam paper which directly affected more than 5,000 students. Tes reports

Qualifications watchdog Ofqual has today said it is proposing to fine OCR for allegedly failing to set and deliver an assessment which was “fit for purpose” after a question which mixed up the Montagues and the Capulets in a question on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet.

OCR apologised for the mistake – and estimated that of the 14,261 students who had sat the exam around 4,000 to 5,000 would have answered a Romeo and Juliet question and about half of those chose to answer the question with a mistake in.

The Ofqual report notes that the error meant that 2,735 learners were given a results which had been calculated based on their performance in other GCSE English literature questions, because they had performed less well in relation to “Romeo and Juliet” questions than those other components.

“In some of the 2,919 instances to have caused learners to perform less well than would have been the case had OCR not made the error,” the report states.

A small number learners may also have been affected in other ways.

The Ofqual notice says that OCR has argued that imposing a monetary penalty would reflect a “selective and inconsistent approach to enforcement” pointing out that other exam boards also made errors.

OCR has the chance to make its case to Ofqual before the penalty is imposed. The final decision will be made on July 16.

Read more about the case Ofqual plans £175k fine for English GCSE error

Did some of your pupils sit this exam? Is there any excuse for errors in exam papers? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. L Austin

    A Soild State Physics second year undergraduate paper I took in 1980 had lots of mistakes in it. About 200 students sat the paper but strangely none of them I talked to about it were interested in complaining.It shows that perhaps I could have got the college fined if I’d taken it up in that way. My tutor made complaints about the several errors in the paper however.

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