HAMPSHIRE’S education chief has backed calls for an independent inquiry into the row over GCSE English grades.

Hundreds of teenagers across Southampton and Hampshire have been left with lower-than-expected results in the important subject after exam boards shifted grade boundaries between January and June.

As reported, it meant some youngsters with higher marks in their papers received a lower grade than others who had taken assessments early.

It left many schools in the Daily Echo region with pass rates in English that were up to 20 percentage points down on predictions, despite forecasts in other subjects proving accurate.

Some angry and frustrated head teachers are preparing appeals against individual grades, while others are considering launching legal action through unions.

Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove, who wants to see exams for school leavers made harder, has admitted mistakes were made that have left some pupils unfairly penalised, but insisted he would not step into the row to force a rethink.

Exams watchdog Ofqual has insisted that GCSE English tests papers will not be re-graded and results would stand, although pupils marked down would have the opportunity to re-sit in November as part of a special concession.

But Hampshire’s Conservative education chief, Cllr Roy Perry, left, has said he believes the fiasco must be looked at fully.

He said: “The local authority has a clearly defined role as champion of children in the community.

“We do not think this situation can be remedied through individual complaints, we do support the call from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and others for an i n d e - pendent review of the matter for the sake of fairness to the children concerned and for the sake of the credibility of the system.”

And leading Southampton Tory Cllr Jeremy Moulton believes papers taken in June should be re-graded against the January levels and wants to see Ofqual take a strong line by ordering exam boards to act.

The party’s opposition education spokesman – the city’s schools boss until the Conservatives lost power in May – said: “I think the issue is one of fairness.

“If changes to the way papers are to be made then it should be done at the start of the year and not right at the last moment. That’s not fair on students.”

Southampton’s Labour education chief, Cllr Sarah Bogle, was last night not available for comment.