Pupils can bypass schools to request GCSE and A-level re-marks this summer, Ofqual announces

Individual pupils will be able to request re-marks of their GCSE and A-level exams directly, rather than having to go through their school, Ofqual has announced today.

In response to its consultation, the exams regulator has announced that from this summer it will lift rules which prevent exam boards from allowing learners to make direct re-mark requests, in order to make the process more “fair”.

In future, exam boards will be able to give students the choice of requesting a mark review either via their school or individually.

Review requests cost approximately £50 per paper at A-level – with only marginal variation between exam boards.

Independent schools are much more likely to appeal exam marks, figures also published today show. One in every eight entries for A-levels at fee-paying schools are appealed, compared to one in 13 at state schools.

Schools Week has previously reported how independent schools have more exam administration resources which influences the ability to request mark reviews.

Julie Swan (pictured), executive director for general qualifications at Ofqual, said that lifting the ban on individual pupils appealing directly to exam boards “might be helpful for students who request a challenge” but are advised against by the school.

While she said these might be “hopeless requests” and an individual will “waste money and effort” in pursuing an appeal it will be up to the exam board to decide whether they accept the request or not.

Swan admitted the change might lead to more requests for reviews.

Today’s announced changes also mean exam boards which do not allow direct appeals from pupils, must nevertheless “ensure” learners can appeal their school or college’s decision not to request a mark review on their behalf.

But the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents all the exam boards, did not offer its support to the change. A spokseperson said: “Exam boards think it’s really important that students have the support of their teachers when making decisions like this, and schools also have the right technical expertise to discuss these issues with exam boards.”

Other changes include a decision that exam reviews for GCSE and A-level papers will only allow an examiner to review and correct errors in marking. Full re-marks of papers will no longer occur.

As previously revealed by Schools Week, Ofqual found examiners were more generous during the re-marking process – leading to the suggestion that paying for a re-mark provided “another bite of the [exam] cherry”.

Speaking at a briefing today Swan, who took up her post in March, said: “We don’t think it is right for students who get a review of their mark get a second bite of the cherry, where they have an opportunity to get a higher mark than the original one they were given.

“We want the system to be fairer. But this isn’t about making changes that will make it harder to have errors identified and corrected.”

Schools Week has approached each exam board for comment.

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