Ofqual Exams 2021: Plans For Appeals Process & Quality Assurance

The examinations regulator, Ofqual has published draft guidance on how the appeals process will work for teacher assessed grades this summer. Beyond reports on the Ofqual exams 2021 appeals process…

Ofqual Exams 2021: Appeals Process

The new Ofqual guidance on grading of GCSEs and A levels for this summer reveals that schools and colleges will have “no discretion” over whether or not to submit appeals. The exam board has given every pupil the right to ask their school to carry out a review and submit an appeal to the exam board on their behalf. In effect, they are able to challenge their grades without pushback from the school.

In the past, the process of submitting appeals was very different. Pupils needed to request a review of examiners’ marking of their script and then an appeal against their grade and their school had the final say on wherever a review or appeal was or was not pursued. This year schools “will have no discretion whether or not to conduct the review or submit the appeal”.

Ofqual chair Ian Bauckham said: “Whether a learner raised any objection to the inclusion or exclusion of particular evidence before the determination of the teacher assessment grade is a factor which an awarding organisation may take into account, but it should not be determinative,”.

“The most effective grounds of appeal may be those which explain simply and clearly what the learner considers went wrong and how they think this made a difference to the determination of the teacher assessment grade by the centre.”

Schools are only responsible for amending errors in their grade allocation process while exam boards will shoulder most of the responsibility. 

Quality Assurance

The topic of quality assurance has been an issue since the teacher assessed final grades for the green light. Ofqual announced they would be following a three stage quality assurance process. The first two stages involve every school having their centre policy summary reviewed by exam boards. Then proceeding with virtual visits if the board has questions or concerns.

Ofqual’s director of standards and comparability, Cath Jadhav, said exam boards would request samples of submitted work from all schools as part of the third stage

Those submissions would be passed on to subject experts at the boards who will then review evidence provided. Some schools will be targeted based on factors, such as “significant changes in entry patterns” or where a school is identified as needing additional support while others will be chosen at random. 

Schools where the proportion of grades in 2021 appears “significantly higher or lower” than results in previous years when traditional exams took place will also be reviewed by the boards.  

Jadhav stated that this does not mean schools should feel pressured to award grades “to closely match those in previous years” or that the information from previous years “should be used to suppress results”.

“There can be good reasons for results to vary from one year to the next, and centres should record the reasons for any substantial variances, in line with the centre’s policy.”

Ofqual’s interim chief, Simon Lebus admitted that teacher assessed grades were likely cause more inconsistency in the results awarded across different schools.

He stated: “Clearly it’s not going to be as consistent as it would be if we were using externally set exams in the normal way because it’s not that sort of exercise, – results are likely to look a bit more generous”

When asked about returning to exam normality he said:“It’s not yet decided whether we will be back to full fat exams as it were.”

So this new process could possibly follow us into 2022.

He added: “Clearly there are a lot of moving parts, and there are all sorts of things that could go wrong this summer, but we go into it much better prepared than we were last year.”

What do you think of the Ofqual exams 2021 appeals process?

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