DfE to cover cost of 2021 exam grade appeals

exam appeals

The Department for Education will cover the cost of appeals to exam boards over teacher assessment grades issued to state school pupils and private candidates this year, Schools Week has learned.

Pupils wanting to challenge their teacher assessment grades this year will first ask their school to check for errors and that their own processes were followed. Schools will then appeal to exam boards on the pupil’s behalf if they are not satisfied with the outcome.

Concerns about grade inflation and the anticipated variation of grades between schools had prompted fears about the cost of unsuccessful appeals.

But the government is expected to tell headteachers today that it will provide funding to exam boards “with respect to formal appeals of teacher assessed grades submitted to them by state-funded providers and any providers on behalf of private candidates”.

Schools will, therefore, not have to pay a fee to exam boards when submitting appeals on behalf of pupils. However, they will be expected to “absorb” the cost of running their own initial internal reviews from within their existing budgets.

It’s expected further details will be published at a later date.

Last year, the government was forced to announce it would cover fees for failed appeals following a huge backlash over results. The government expected the cost of appeal fees to be between £8 million and £15 million.

Last year, schools still had to pay the fees but were able to claim them back from the government. This time, the money will go direct to exam boards.

The number of appeals against GCSE and A-level grades soared last year as a result of the exams fiasco and a change to the appeals process, while the proportion upheld also increased.

At GCSE, for instance, there were almost 2,215 appeals in 2020, up from 745 in 2019. Of the appeals received last year, 83 per cent were upheld, up from 57 per cent the previous year.


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