THE Government’s exam grading body, Ofqual, has announced changes to the appeals process for pupils dissatisfied with their grades under this year’s exam arrangements, following pressure from the cross-party Education Committee, led by Robert Halfon MP.
In their report, “Getting the grades they’ve earned – Covid-19: the cancellation of exams and ‘calculated grades'”, the House of Commons Education Select Committee highlighted a number of concerns around this year’s arrangements for GCSEs, A Levels and technical/vocational qualifications.
Chaired by Harlow MP, Robert Halfon, the Committee took particular issue with the accessibility and fairness of the appeals process which they described as a process purely for “the well-heeled and sharp-elbowed”.
Under the original appeal arrangements, pupils could “ask their centre to check whether they made an error when submitting a centre assessment grade and including them in the centre’s rank order. They will be able to raise a complaint to their centre if they have evidence of bias or that they were discriminated against.”
The Education Committee described in their report that this “evidence of bias or discrimination is an unrealistic threshold, and one which will be the preserve of the well-heeled, the most articulate”. The cross-party MPs called on the Government to make changes to the appeals process to improve fairness and accessibility.
Under this pressure, Ofqual has announced that schools will now be able to challenge whole year groups grades “if they can evidence grades are lower than expected” in comparison to previous cohorts.
It is now thought that thousands more pupils will have the opportunity to challenge their grades, thanks to pressure from the Education Committee.
Robert Halfon MP has commented on the new changes to the appeals process, saying: “Our Education Committee’s report on this year’s exam arrangements uncovered a host of concerns about the fairness of the appeals process for GCSEs, A Levels and vocational qualifications.
“During one evidence session, we questioned Ofqual’s Chief Regulator, Sally Collier, on the narrow grounds for appeal and accessibility of the process.
“In our recommendations, we wanted to see changes to the appeals system to ensure that it would be fair to all – not just for those who know how to navigate the system – the well-heeled and sharp-elbowed.
“I am really pleased that Ofqual has listened and widened the scope for appeals. Schools will now be able to challenge whole year groups’ grades if results show a very different pattern to previous years. Potentially, thousands more pupils will have the chance to appeal their grade if they are dissatisfied and get the result that they deserve.
“Our Committee looks forward to a fuller response to our report from Ofqual in September.”