GCSE results fell for the first time in the exam’s 24-year history on Thursday, prompting a furious backlash from teachers, who claimed that grades had been deliberately suppressed.
Up to 10,000 pupils are believed to have missed out on C grades in English — considered a good pass — as results registered their only annual decline since 1988.
Head teachers, local authorities and union leaders said grade boundaries had been “very substantially” raised at the last minute.
Many schools could now face closure or takeover for failing to hit key GCSE targets.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, moved to defuse the row yesterday, insisting that exam boards had operated “entirely free” from political pressure.
He also appeared to welcome the drop in grades, adding: “You cannot have a situation where exam passes continue rising forever and ever without … grades either falling or steadying.”
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