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Exam Appeal Arrangements - Ofqual and JCQ Guidance Published

on Monday, 05 July 2021.

In this blog, we consider post-results arrangements for this year now that Ofqual and the JCQ have released their final appeals guidance.

Read the full Ofqual and JCQ guidance on their respective websites.

Now that schools have submitted their Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) to the exam boards, we anticipate that attention will be turning to arrangements for post-publication support. You will undoubtedly be keen to ensure that you can deliver excellent support to your pupils following the release of results and effective planning will position you well to do so. As well as the usual advice and support with progression, schools will need to be prepared to manage appeals, complaints and information requests, some on extremely tight timetables. Some of the key considerations from our perspective are set out below.

A, A/S level and GCSE Appeals 2021

The system this year comprises two main stages:

  • an internal school-led review to check for accuracy and procedural compliance
  • an exam board appeal (which must be brought by the school) to consider procedural compliance and or whether there has been an unreasonable exercise of academic judgement.

Key aspects of these arrangements are:

  • an internal review must have been undertaken and the outcome reported to the pupils, before an appeal is launched.
  • requests for reviews must be received by 16 August (for students applying to higher education who did not get their first choice) or 3 September for any others.
  • pupils have a right of appeal to the exam board, regardless of the outcome of the school-led review.
  • the deadline to submit an appeal is 23 August (for students applying to higher education who did not get their first choice) or 17 September for all other appeals.
  • during an appeal, a grade may go up, down or stay the same and pupil consent is required to any appeal.

Exam Procedures Review Service (EPRS)

Pupils who are dissatisfied with the outcome of an appeal can also seek an administrative review by the EPRS, the final details of which are still under consultation. Such a review will however be limited to examining procedural compliance by exam boards.

Sharing Information

As well as continuing with internal quality assurance procedures, schools are encouraged to be clear in their communications with pupils and parents and to share with them in advance of results:

  • grades/marks associated with the evidence used to assess the pupil's grade (where considered appropriate)
  • the centre policy and any supporting documentation
  • details of any variations in evidence used for that pupil and why
  • details of special circumstances taken into consideration.

Sharing this information before results are published can assist with early identification of errors. This information must be provided, in any event, following results where it is requested by a pupil.

Schools must also ensure that pupils and private candidates are aware of their particular arrangements for conducting centre reviews and submitting appeals, including providing them with a statement of the arrangements promptly when requested. Annexed to its appeals guidance, JCQ has produced a template form and evidence checklist for use by schools to assist with collecting the information and evidence which is required for an appeal, which schools are encouraged but not obliged to use.

Spreading the Burden

Taking steps now to identify and correct any errors can help to reduce the burden of reviews and appeals following 10 and 12 August. Corrections can be made by schools to TAGs in advance of the publication of results, so this is a useful opportunity to rectify problems and reduce the post-results workload.

We would suggest you also use this opportunity to forecast where appeals are most likely and plan to ensure you have the personnel and resources to be able to meet the relevant deadlines including those for appeals, university places and autumn exam series entries. Timely and appropriate action is likely to be key to ensuring the best possible outcomes and to managing the risk of complaints and claims from dissatisfied pupils and parents.

Complaints and Subject Access Requests

Whilst the arrangements for appeals map out a clear route to challenge outcomes, as we noted in our last blog, parent complaints and subject access requests relating to grading are still possible, and we would recommend that you plan for adequate resource to respond to related procedures over the summer. We think it will be important to carefully consider the nature of any requests for information and or expressions of concern, and to seek clarity where needed, to ensure that you continue to meet these obligations. 

VWV Plus - Data Protection eLearning

If you require specialist legal advice on this year's exam appeal arrangements, please contact James Garside in our Regulatory Compliance team on 07468 698937, or complete the form below.

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