Exam board AQA will return an extra £3.5 million to schools for last summer’s cancelled exams, however it still lags behind other board’s more generous rebates.
The country’s largest board was widely criticised for returning only 26 per cent of GCSE and A-level fees to schools last summer. This was despite teachers shouldering the “lion’s share” of work to create teacher-assessed grades, heads said.
But the charity told schools this month that it will return extra cash as the Department for Education covered costs relating to the autumn exams series. This takes its total refund to £48.5 million.
AQA did not provide an updated percentage figure for its overall rebate but, based on its previous figures, the extra £3.5 million works out at around 2 per cent, meaning the total rebate is now 28 per cent.
It therefore trails way behind OCR and WJEC Eduqas, which returned 42 per cent of fees. Pearson returned 33 per cent.
Schools have not yet been told how much they will each receive, but accounts will be credited by the end of May.
‘It’s something at least’
Geoff Barton, general secretary of school leaders’ union ASCL, welcomed the extra money, but added: “It isn’t a great deal extra, but it’s something at least.
“We have always recognised that AQA has certain fixed costs, and that there was a degree of work involved in last year’s assessments despite the cancellation of formal exams.
“However, its rebate really was very low given the fact that schools and colleges had to do the lion’s share of the work in assessing their students, and this was a source of considerable frustration among many leaders.
“Still, we move on now and we are keen to maintain a constructive relationship with AQA.”
Last summer, schools had to assess students and provide grades after exams were cancelled due to lockdowns, but exam boards did have to provide quality assurance assessments and test materials.
AQA did not say how much funding DfE had provided. Last year the board said its fees were generally lower than other exam boards, impacting the amount it could give back to schools.
The board said a more substantial refund would put its ability to run exams this summer at risk.
Both Pearson and OCR said their summer rebate had already taken into account any further funding.