31/08/2012 Newsnight


With Mishal Husain. GSCEs in January were easier than in June; the regulator explains why that is OK. Why are Russian billionaires fighting in English courts?

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Anyone hoping for a better grade in their GCSE English this summer,


tough, you are stuck with your result, even though we know, six


months before you would have had an easier ride. The exam regulators


agree GCSEs were marked less generously than in January. They


are not about to do anything to placate students or teachers.


make as mock reeft league tables, they are meaningless, unless you


know when schools entered their students for GCSE. The Chief


Regulator at Ofqual will explain why it is OK for some students to


get lucky. The man who decided to fight his


domestic feud in front of a judge. Too bad she didn't see her way.


Today she tried to rewrite Russian history, it is not allowed by an


English judge in a court. Debate whether the English courts got it


wrong. Why is London the place for legal battles, entirely about


Russia. The exam regulator has dashed hopes


that English GCSEs from this summer might be revisited, despite a huge


outcry over thousands of students in England who did worse than


expected. Ofqual admitted today that June's exams were marked more


harshly than the same exam taken in January. But said today, that's


life, the January candidates got a lucky break. The problem is,


thousands of 16-year-olds are seeing their plans for the future


thrown into the balance. And are wishing they were in the small


percentage of those who had gone into the exams six months earlier.


In the row over GCSE grading, today was the turn of the exam regulator


to offer its submission. And answer question 1, what, if anything had


gone wrong? The job we have to do is to make sure that standards are


maintained and standards are right. We know that was the case in June,


we can see that in January there was a level of generosity, a very


small number of students there got a lucky break. No lucky break at


Burlington Danes, one of the education secretary's favourite


academies. Student took the exam in June, the school's senior teachers


saw the number of those getting five good GCSEs fall from 75% last


year to 64%. I'm not in a position to judge whether the grade


boundaries were too generous in January. All I know is it is not


fair. I felt sick, actually, when I got the results. I was so shocked


on the day the English results came in, I can really remember my


feeling on that day, when we just, when D after D after D came out on


the results. I couldn't believe it. We were in a total state of shock.


For the first time, since 1988, the percentage of pupils getting A*-C


in English language fell from 65.4% to 63.9% this summer. This year's


English GCSE was a new exam, part marked in schools, part by Exam


Boards. In March it emerged to get a C grade on the AQA foundation


paper, that some students sat in January, required 43 mark, teachers


worked on this basis, last week we learned that boundary had shifted


for the June exams, up to 53 marks, and boundaries were raised for


course work too, and other boards. We are happy with grade boundaries


changing between years, but not within the same year. I think


that's been the issue. It's been particularly with the control


assessments, or the work done in school, where a piece of work is


worth a C in January, and a D in June. That is where it seems


completely unfair. That's for exactly the same piece of work?


It is important to be clear that, as a school, we want to raise


standards, and we want exams to become more difficult, more


rigorous exam criteria, we strive for students to do better and


better. However, it just feels that you're differentiating between a


point of entry, if a child was entered in January, as many schools


did early entry, they will achieve better grades than students entered


at the end of the year. Because Ofqual wants to end grade inflation,


it said exam results, or outcomes, must be comparable with those of


previous years. That's hard to do with a new partly modular test,


where students have done some assessments in spring, and got


those grades, and then done a final exam. The whole comparable outcomes


approach is based on, essentially, rationing the number of top grades.


And you can only do that once you see the full picture of every


candidate's performance. And the problem is, with a modular system,


you don't see all that until the end, but you have already awarded


some of the grades on the way. So, I think it is pretty hard to do


that without some kind of adjustment like what we have seen,


you would hope it wouldn't be quite on the scale we have seen, but I


don't think it's really credible that you can get rid of it all


together. If you are a victim of this adjustment, it is hard to


understand. It is pretty clear that it is not us that's really the


problem. It is mainly because they have suddenly changed the grade


boundaries and marked us down. Someone could have missed a C by


one mark. Like you? Yes, but someone who did it in January could


have got a C by one mark, but they got the same marks as me. Ofqual's


deseffectively rewards schools that put pupils in early to -- Ofqual's


deseffectively rewards schools that put pupils in early for exams.


Ironically Michael Gove says he wants this to end, he wants all


students sitting an exam in summer. There is a basic issue of fairness


here, that calls into question the credibility of the way the system


is being run. It cannot be right you will have two students with


similar quality of work, one of who's work is put in January and


they get a C, another who puts it in the summer and they get a D.


This effects life chances, and the ability to go on to college and


sixth form. It makes comparisons between schools much less


meaningful than they normally are. Schools are judged on different


sets of grade boundaries. It makes a mockery of the league tables?


does. They become meaningless, you know when a school entered children


for GCSE in English. Ofqual is offering resits. Head teachers are


furious, and the inquiry is offer, and still threatening legal action.


In our Birmingham studio know is the Chief Regulator of Ofqual


Glenys Stacey. Why is it, whose job -- someone whose job it is to look


at standards, has described today as students getting a lucky break?


The concerns have been expressed quickly from schools and colleges.


There are a good number of units or moduals now underpinning GCSEs. We


have managed to pin it down to a handful of units, some in January


and some in June. We have looked closely at the grade boundary


settings in all of the exam boards, and looked at the professional


judgment of the examers there, and we can examiners in June, and we


can see when most sat the papers, the material was sound, examiners


were able to use the material to set the judgment, and they were


able to use a lot of data and information to make sure their


judgments were right. The point is the comparison between the marking


and the results in June, and in January. How is it acceptable that


luck played a part in a system in a country like our's? If I can come


to that. When these units were first sat in January, first of all,


very few students sat them. If we look at AQA, the biggest provider


for English, only 2 out of every 100 students sat them in January.


What you had there, were professional examiners, looking at


the material, they had precious little to go on. They were new


qualifications as well. So they were setting standards without


really a past history to go on. And we know, having spoken with the


expert, that is particularly difficult in English. I'm sure you


can find all sorts of reasons that all of this has happened, but the


fact of the matter, you accept the system you preside over is not fair


system. It has not been fair to all 16-year-olds who sat GCSE English


this year? Our job as a regulator is to make sure standards are right.


We don't just have to do it for this year. Is it a fair system for


everyone who sat the exam this year? We have to do it for all the


years. We have to make sure standards are right overall. We


have done that. Is it fair to everyone who sat the exam this year,


simple yes or no? It is as fair as it can be. If I can say that some


solutions are on the way. We have spoken about the complexity about


it, and moderate approaches. We are moving away from that. We are


moving to linear examinations and assessments from now on. Would you


like to apologise to those who sat the exam in June, and were marked


more harshly than counterparts six months earlier? What I would like


to say to those who sat the exams in June, is we have looked very


closely to see if there is anything wrong with your grades, and there


isn't. The grades are right. But, nevertheless, we think that you


have expierenceed quite a so the of anxiety and uncertainty, we don't


think that is right. We are very pleased that exam boards are


offering you the opportunity to resit should you wish to do so.


would like to apologise to them? would certainly say things could


have gone better for them, and they haven't been helped by the


complexity of the system, and also by the expectations that have been


set for them. They have been unlucky, then. Luck has been an


unfortunate part of a system that actually should be about fairness


right across the board? They have had proper grades awarded in June.


The people that were lucky were the precious few, if you like, who took


these units in January. So, if the ones in June, if their results are


correct, and if you standby those results, then if you look at the


fact it is the first fall in 24 years of GCSE, then those summer


GCSE candidates were less intelligent than any of those in


the previous 24 years? No, they are not. What has happened is until


this time, we used to have two English qualifications, there was a


change a couple of years ago, it is the first time the exams have come


to full fruition, they are completely different now, there are


three qualifications. The qualification has changed and the


candidates have changed. Some have gone to i-gcse, for example, the


examiners are trying to make sure the same standard is maintained


through change. There is a really important point for the future.


That when qualifications change, like this, it is very, very


difficult for examiners to keep standards maintained. Again, we go


back to this rather unfortunate situation, then, the ones this


summer were unlucky, that happen to be summer GCSE students in 2012?


is not that they were unlucky. They had been studying these


qualifications for two years, they came out with the right grades. The


issue is the way the system work when a few candidates only took the


units earlier, it was very difficult to get the standards


right. It looks like they were right at the time when the


professional examiners were doing it. This story isn't over, are you


preparing for legal action, that is the threat talked about in a


concrete way today? I have heard that. Of course, if that is going


to happen, it is going to happen. What I will say, again, we do have


to maintain standards for last year, this year, next year and so on. We


really can't waver or change, because a few students got lucky in


January. Thank you very much. We have the


master of Wellington college, and the principle of George Green


Comprehensive skal school, in East London.


What do you think of Glenys Stacey's explanation? I'm appalled,


I'm absolutely furious. As indeed are hundreds of head teachers up


and down the country. This is really not going toened here. There


will be legal Chancellor -- to end here. There will be legal


challenges. This is a human story, we have youngsters, those at the C-


D bordeline, those in disadvantaged communities, who have suffered here.


Their whole life chances. Luck has nothing to do with it, this has


nothing to do with standards, it is about making things fit. These are


teething problems? That is not thes' fault, we have followed what


we were asked to do as schools. The nonsense about nuke and -- nonsense


about luck and sitting the exam in January. My students did 40% in


January, and then they did the listening assessment and put those


forward in June. You have students marked under different systems, it


is not right or acceptable. have been talking for years,


disparagingly about grade inflation, are you pleased, do you see this as


the system correcting itself? think it is a good thing that the


endless rise in grades year-on-year has come to an end, after 24 years.


I think it is a good thing for many reasons. I think it will restore


confidence to the system from universities, and from employers,


and the general public, that grade As really do mean what they say. My


school takes the international baccalaureate, it has had zero


grade inflation for 40 years. You can have that and maintain


standards. That was inevitable. But, I think it is really appalling the


way that it has happened. And it is terribly sad for these children.


Who really feel that a big injustice has been done to them. I


think it is very sad for the teachers in those schools, and the


schools themselves, who really cling on these grades. They are so


important to the children, for entry into the sixth form, and


entry into whatever jobs they might go on to do and for university, and


schools. The way they are judged by the Government. I think that the


solution of this November resit seems to be an admission that


Ofqual got it wrong any way. They are being offered the chance for a


resit? What will that help. It will be so hard. Why do you think this


is happening now. The comparable outcome system was a new system.


Michael Gove has said the Exam Boards make independent decision,


what do you think? Michael Gove says that and Ofqual say that, I


don't believe it, and no headteacher I have met believes it.


The Exam Boards have been indirectly affected by the talk of


raising standards. Can I come back to the point about resitting in


November. There seems to be, that neither Ofqual or the examiner


understand how resits work. You can't just resit it in November,


you have completely different controlled assessment, children


have to be taught, prepared and supervised, when they can be all


over the place. It is not possible. They don't understand how schools


workk and how important this is. It is clear to me that Ofqual do not


understand the processes, and the way children are tracked from the


minute they leave primary school to the end game. Raise On-line, the


database we are all judged on, will now be a nonsense. The head


teachers, as I am preparing for Ofsted in the autumn term, our data


is completely up the creek. It is nonsense. The point about the exam


boards, what do you believe about the suggestion, and it is believed


by many people, that there has been an element of political influence,


if not interference? I don't know what the answer is. I very much


doubt that Michael Gove, directly, had had any influence on Ofqual. I


think that was Ofqual, myself, my judgment is that was Ofqual


reaching their own decision about what was right. But, doing it in a


very niave and insensitive way, and the fact you have so many outraged


teachers who are often supportive of Government policy, supportive of


the whole drift, as is Kenny, who has done remarkable work in her


school to raise standards. People are appalled by this, and it shows


a lack of sensitivity and preparation. If this was a new


system and thatch harder to get the C grades. Or confidence, are Ofqual


good enough to be doing the very important job of regulating the


exam boards? We should have been prepared for it. Shocks should not


have been allowed to happen. We should have been prepared for it.


They have upset a lot of very decent, hard-working teacher, heads,


schools, and above all, the candidates, the students themselves.


It need not have happened. If is Ofqual up to the job? I have no


confidence. I really have no confidence at all, they had to be


forced into this investigation. The initial reaction was there was no


problem. It was only in response to the unions that made them do this


investigation. It has been very quick and it will not lie there.


When we go back to school on Monday, we will be gathering the views of


parents and the community. Who will certainly not be happy with this.


It don't end here. One of the most expensive court


battles ever heard in England came to an end today, with the final


bill in Abramovich versus Berezovsky estimated at �1 billion.


It was not a good end for Boris Berezovsky, who looks at playing


the bill. The judge dismissed his claims saying he was an unreliable


witnesses and downright dishonest. It is also seen as a verdict on


Vladimir Putin, Mr Berezovsky felt he thought Putin himself wrote the


judgment. It was a battle that consumed three


months of court time. Thousands of pages of evidence. And tens of


millions of pounds in legal fees and costs. A dual between two


Russian tycoons, their chosen weapon, the unveiling blade of


English justice. The challenger, Boris Berezovsky, once the ultimate


oligarch, now an angry exile, the Kremlin's implacable enemy. The


defendant, the man he once regarded as his son, Roman Abramovich, who


stayed loyal to Putin, and came to far outglitter Berezovsky in wealth.


At stake, the �5 billion Berezovsky said Abramovich owed him for his


share in one of Russia's most lucrative oil companies. Abramovich


said Berezovsky never had any such share. Today, the shiny new temple


of truth, that is the High Court's Rolls building, was besieged, as


inside English Jews at the, in the form of Mrs Justice Gloster, agreed


with Abramovich. Sensationally she dismissed Mrs Berezovsky's entire


suit. It took man with all his irrepressible showmanship, to face


down such a draining financial disaster. I'm amazed with what


happened today. Sometimes I had the impression that Putin himself wrote


this judgment. Sometimes I have this impression. Putin, supported


by a London court? Many will see this as a triumph, not just for Mr


Abramovich, but for the reputation of English justice. It has proved


its shiny neutrality, by humiliating the man, who most


believed in Britain and British institution, Boris Berezovsky. And


it is expressively vindicated his opponent, Roman Abramovich, but


also his arch enemy, Vladimir Putin, who has been so angry with Britain


for sheltering his critics. Berezovsky, the judge said, was


wrong to have accused Putin for threatening him. What does it mean


politically, you heard what the judge said about President Putin,


that he put no pressure, it was said? Again, this is one of the


crucial points. Today she tried to rewrite Russian his treatment it is


not allowed by a judge in English courts.


The murky world of 1990s Russia, that Mrs Justice Gloster was


insited to explore, was compared to court to England in the 15th


century. A world of intrigue and skullduggery, where a supreme fixer


like Berezovsky could make or unmake fortunes. You might have


expected her ladyship to suggest, in a judicialiously English way,


that all the characters were -- judiciously English way that all


these characters were as bad as each other, but no, her sword came


down unambiguously on Mr Berezovsky's head. He was a witness


that regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, that could be


moulded to suit his current circumstances. Mr Abramovich gave


careful and thoughtful answers, she said, he was frank making


concessions where they were due. As for Mr Putin, the judge accepted


the evidence of a Kremlin witness, that the Russian President never


intimidated Berezovsky into selling his stake in the TV company, ORT, a


judgment the plaintiff found particularly unhistorical. It is


common knowledge all over the world that I did not sell ORT by my will,


I was under pressure, and even I left Russia and granted political


asylum, and the crucial point was that Putin attempted to control the


mass media. The chief Godfather in this tale, in the court's view, was


apparently not Putin, but Berezovsky himself. The millions


Abramovich paid him to finance his luxury lifestyle, were not shares


in a joint business venture, they were ad hoc payments to the head of


a protection racket. Payments known in Russian as krysha. Although the


krysha is well known in Russia. It is known in the courts as well, in


the Russian courts. This is the first time the essence of that word


and the word was used in the international court. So this is a


very significant judgment all together. In deepest Siberia, there


is another tycoon, who is delighted about that. Mr Derry pass ka, the


billionare alluminium king, has been summoned to Russia to answer


for his huge fortune. One of the claims will be the claimant was a


protector, not a partner. But that claimant, Michael ch. Erney, won't


be here when the -- Cherney, won't be here when the court mites,


wanted on allegations of money laundering, he stays in Israel. The


stampede of rich Russians wanting to lig gate in London seems


unstoppable. The Government wants law to be an exportable product


from the UK. They want London to be seen as a litigation centre around


the globe. But on the other hand, some lawyers would argue that


perhaps, do we really want these oligarchs with perhaps shadey


backgrounds, litigating in London. It is a question of morals for us.


Pwher Berezovsky has learned an expensive -- Boris Berezovsky has


learned an expensive lesson about the blindness of English justice.


Some will hope our courts don't get too much of a taste for rewriting


other country's history. Alex Goldfarb, Boris Berezovsky's


close friend is with us, and volumes volumes volumes head of the


Russian -- Anton Volskiy, head of a Russian T vision station. Boris


Berezovsky chose to bring this case, how do you feel about English


justice today? I'm very disappointed by this ruling. It was


obviously a very subjective ruling by Judge Gloster, who got it all


wrong. I was there, I saw the events that were discussed in court.


I know, for a fact, that Mr Berezovsky was inTim dated by Mr


Abramovich, on behalf of Mr Putin. By passing this judgment, the


implications are that the corrupt and murderous regime of Mr Putin


got a tremendous boost, both internationally and domestically.


You say Boris Berezovsky was intimidated by this setting, the


fact is, he didn't do himself any favour, the judge not only thought


he was unimpressive, but she thought he treated the truth as a


flexible concept, and he was entirely unreliable as a witness?


think the judge made a mistake, to call Mr Abramovich a reliable


witness, is actually laughable as a statement to anyone. That is your


thoughts? Anyone who is Russian knows that. There are credible


claims that Mr Putin's personal beneficiary of the proceeds of this


transaction, and that Mr Abramovich is his actual personal banker.


Anyone who reads the Financial Times can see the evidence of how


Mr Abramovich's money was laundered and used to buy Mr Putin's palace.


What do you make, Anton Volskiy, of that view, that this judgment was


entirely subjective in Alex Goldfarb's view? I cannot say that


it was a subjective thing, it was, as the British courts, objective.


In Russia, by the way, both oligarchs, they don't have a


credible image. They are very unpopular, both of them. Because


everybody knows, everybody doesn't know where the money comes from.


When you look at the case, it is not just about the behaviour of the


oligarchs, the picture of your country was unflattering. It is


wealth being divided up ash trairly, it is Mafia money, and a legal


system not robust enough to hear these cases on home turf? It is


true and not true. We all knew what the Russian economics and politics


used to be in the 1990s. We knew that, cite Shah and all these


things. Prob -- krysha, and all those things. Probably Putin came


into power and said he would make the state of law. It is not


accurate to say Russian oligarchs set their deals here in the court.


Boris Berezovsky is a British resident for more than ten years


already. The same thing with the other trial, Derripaska. These


cases are all about events in Russia, the content of the case has


nothing to do with Britain. After what you have seen happen in this


particular case, given the fact there are more cases on their way.


Would you still advise that London is the right place to hear these


kinds of cases? By default, yes. There is no legal system in Russia.


We have recently seen the case of Pussyriot, there are tens of


thousands of businessmen whose assets were appropriated by people


associated with this regime and who are languishing in Russian jails.


Starting with Mr Korvokovsky. What is important now, the whole


democracy movement now, that is actually opposing Mr Putin's


policies, now feels that the regime got a tremendous boost. Did the


regime get a boost from this, a good day for the Kremlin on the


back of an English judge? There was a comment from the Kremlin today.


They are satisfied with the case because the liar was called a liar.


They say that Berezovsky is a liar, and now it is confirmed by the


British court. I think this was a case about money. Berezovsky wanted


money from Abramovich, he didn't get money, let's not do from this


economic case, money is the biggest thing.


It is Friday night, which mean Review is up next. Kirsty is there.


What have you got for us? We have been bringing you dark


theatre from Edinburgh, Zadie Smith's new book, and a Turner


Prize's winner, weird sounds for The One Show. All that and Bob


Dylan's new album, Tempesst. Join me and my guests in a moment.


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Mishal Husain.

GSCEs in January were easier than in June; the regulator explains why that is OK.

Why are Russian billionaires fighting in English courts?