Schools in England can rely on their students’ GCSE and A results if they can demonstrate that the grades are lower than expected.
The examiner in England has said that schools and colleges can appeal if they can demonstrate that historical data used to standardize grades is not a reliable indicator of this year’s results due to changing circumstances.
However, individual students should not challenge the grades themselves, Ofqual confirms, and schools and colleges will have to appeal against the results on their behalf.
The guidance – published a week before A-level results day – comes after a former head of private school warned that not allowing appeals against unfair exam results could result in some students serving life sentences.
It follows chaos in Scotland, where 124,564 students were discounted by exam bosses after teachers “tried to give them the highest results in history.”
Schools and colleges can appeal if they can prove that historical data used to standardize grades is not a reliable indicator of this year’s results
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said, “It is essential that students with exceptional circumstances are not held back by the way grades are calculated.”
Concerns have been raised that the “narrow” criteria for challenging grades may “exacerbate existing inequalities” and lead to legal action against examination boards.
It comes after this summer’s exams were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, schools and colleges were asked to submit the grades they thought students would have obtained if they had passed the exams.
However, it was revealed last week that statistical modeling will be used to determine the majority of this year’s A-level and GCSE results, rather than predicted figures from teachers.
Exam regulator Ofqual announced the government’s turnaround after concerns were raised about the reliability of teacher-predicted grades.
The new statistical model will take into account a number of factors, including the students’ previous achievements, the results of previous students at the same school, and the predicted figures submitted by teachers in March.
New Ofqual guidelines now describe how schools and colleges can rely on GCSE and A level grades, which students will receive in the next two weeks.
Schools and colleges can appeal if they expected results this year to show ‘a completely different figure pattern’ than results in previous years because of the competence profile of students this year.
If a school has undergone a ‘significant change in leadership or governance’ – and can demonstrate that the previous numbers are ‘not a reliable indicator’ of this year’s results – it may also challenge the results.
If a same-sex school has turned into co-education – or if a school has experienced a ‘monumental event’, such as flooding or fire, which forced the school to move and impact previous exam results – they can appeal.
There are concerns that next week’s result day may be chaotic as thousands of teenagers may get ‘unfair’ numbers (stock image)
Schools and colleges can appeal to the Examination Board if it believes that it has made a mistake when submitting a grade or if it believes that an Examination Board has made a mistake.
Students can ask their school or college to check whether an administrative mistake has been made in submitting their grade – or they can ask them to file an objection with the Examination Board.
Students cannot directly challenge their calculated grades to the examination boards, but they can file allegations of bias or discrimination.
Ofqual advised students in the first place to file a complaint with their university or school about possible malpractice. If their concerns are not addressed, students can formally file a complaint with the Board of Examiners.
Students in England who are not satisfied with their grades will also have the opportunity to take A-level exams in October and GCSE exams in November.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said, “It is vital that students with exceptional circumstances are not held back by the way grades are calculated – including those who are very talented in schools that have not had strong results in the past, or where schools have undergone major changes such as a new leadership team.
This appeal process does this. Students will also be given the opportunity to take exams this fall if they are not satisfied with their grades. ‘
Not allowing students to appeal against GCSE or A-Level exam grades they consider unfair had previously been linked to the imposition of a ‘life sentence’.
There are concerns that the results may be chaotic next week, as thousands of teenagers may receive ‘unfair’ figures.
Dr. Martin Stephen, the former High Master of St Paul’s Boys’ School told The Daily Telegraph that the system was tantamount to “serving a life sentence without appeal.”
The new guidance follows outrage in Scotland, where the grading process lowered the success rate of the poorest senior students by more than double that of the wealthiest.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority has lowered student grades for the exams that were not taken, changing a massive 93.1 percent of all moderate scores.
Chief Examining Officer Fiona Robertson said that if the SQA had failed the exam, success rates would have risen at every level and would have been the highest ever.