The  decision not to re-grade hundreds of pupils’ GCSE English marks has been condemned as “deeply disappointing”.

An alliance of hundreds of pupils and schools and scores of local councils, including Brighton and Hove, launched an unprecedented legal challenge over last summer’s exam grades.

A High Court judge ruled teenagers who fell foul of changes to GCSE English were treated unfairly – but that exam boards and regulator Ofqual did not act unlawfully.

Sue Shanks, chairwoman of the council’s children and young people’s committee, said it was right for the local authority to be part of the legal challenge.

She said: “We’re deeply disappointed by this verdict, though the judge did agree with us that the grading system is unfair.

“We’re proud to have worked with other authorities across the country to stand up for our young people, and legal experts are poring over the implications of the ruling to see if an appeal is possible.”

The alliance accused the AQA and Edexcel exam boards of unfairly pushing up the grade boundaries for English last summer in what amounted to “illegitimate grade manipulation” and “a statistical fix” involving exams regulator Ofqual.

But two judges at London’s High Court dismissed the challenge.

Lord Justice Elias, sitting with Mrs Justice Sharp, said Ofqual had appreciated there were features which had operated unfairly and proposed numerous changes for the future.

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