TEACHING leaders have responded to Ofqual claims that exam results are likely to decline this year.

Schools could face a downward turn in GCSE and A-level results following changes to the assessment system, the exams watchdog has warned.

Ofqual has told schools to expect ‘greater variation’ in grades this summer because of major changes to the way teenagers are assessed.

Xavier Bowers, headteacher at Mount Carmel RC in Accrington, said he was ‘not surprised’ at the warnings.

He added: “There have been so many changes pupils have had to contend with throughout this year’s course, it is likely to affect results.

“The government’s agenda is to raise the bar constantly.

“Things like the speaking and listening element in English are already gone, and there are to be more and more exams, and coursework will be reduced.

“Things like art, drama, PE and design won’t be practical, but paper-based exams.

“It’s not the case that things have been dumbed down – education is better, more progressive than ever as we’ve realised listening in class and copying down things isn’t an effective way to teach.

“Just as in other professions, such as medicine, we have more effective methods these days.

“A return to old-style exams will have a bad effect, that doesn’t surprise me.

“It is a little worrying that Ofqual is already anticipating and speaking out about that.” In a report, Ofqual said: “Maintaining grade standards is most difficult when syllabuses change.”

The regulator said the most significant effect would be felt at GCSE level where all exams will be sat at the end of the two-year course this year for the first time, cutting out bite-sized modules and preventing pupils re-sitting papers.

Similar effects will be seen at A-level where the watchdog has scrapped January exams so they are all sat in the summer.

Les Turner, from the National Association of Headteachers in Lancashire said: “Constant change is something headteachers are used to, no matter what government is in.

“When schools started to succeed at Ofsted for example, Ofsted changed the goalposts to justify their existence. I think this year particularly will see an impact on results and it will be for political reasons.”