Schools that deflated own grades can’t appeal, says Ofqual


Schools that followed advice to mark down their own teacher grades will not be allowed to appeal because they did not make an error, Ofqual has said.

The regulator has confirmed today that schools “cannot raise concerns about its CAGs on the basis that another institution took a different approach, that different teachers could have come to a different judgement, or because the national process of standardisation did not operate as expected”.

As Schools Week revealed last week, the government has faced a fresh challenge over exam results from schools that followed advice to reduce grades before submission to exam boards in order to avoid grade inflation.

The Association of School and College Leaders wrote to Ofqual and the government earlier this week seeking action address concerns “as a matter of urgency”.

However, Ofqual has said today that schools and colleges that took into account the distribution of centre-assessment grades compared with grades achieved by the school’s previous students will have acted “within the guidance”.

“The taking into account of such information is not, therefore, an error,” its latest guidance reads.

There are limited grounds for appeal this year, but one of the grounds is if a head of centre has evidence that the school made a mistake when submitting its centre-assessment grades.

Ofqual said today that a school cannot raise concerns about its CAGs on the basis that “another institution took a different approach, that different teachers could have come to a different judgement, or because the national process of standardisation did not operate as expected”.

“Instead, the school or college would need to provide evidence of the original approach that it took and show why this was not appropriate, given the published guidance.

“Exam boards would need to be satisfied that the approach taken by the school or college was inappropriate, not that a different judgement about a CAG could have been reached, to allow an appeal on the basis that the original judgement was flawed.

“In such cases, the exam board will take into account the nature of the school’s or college’s mistake and how it came about when deciding whether it should take any follow up action against the school or college.”

It adds that “given the care” schools used to determine CAGs “we expect that it would be very unusual for them to identify such issues with CAGs”.

“A school or college that took into account the distribution of centre assessment grades compared with grades achieved by the centre’s students in previous years will have acted within the guidance. The taking into account of such information is not, therefore, an error.”

But David Blow, executive headteacher of the SESSET academy trust and a member of Ofqual’s exam advisory group, said: “This is completely unacceptable for the many schools and especially the many thousands of students who have been penalised as a result of schools quite rightly following [the guidance].

“I very much hope that people will stand up very publicly for those schools and students, and not accept this attempt to brush things under the carpet.”

Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary, said this guidance “makes it clear that Ofqual asked schools and colleges to take into account the centre’s previous results when determining centre-assessed grades”.

“Many leaders will be relieved to have it stated so categorically that they were right to consider previous performance in a subject when determining a centre-assessed grade, and this will help them to deal with students and parents who are questioning this approach.

“But some will continue to be deeply upset that there is no mechanism to correct perceived differences in how different centres approached this process, and the impact this has had on some students. We will continue to represent all members’ views on this difficult issue in our ongoing discussions with Ofqual and the Department for Education.”


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  1. Huy Duong

    So much for Ofqual’s claim that it was trying to achieve grade consistency between centres then. In any case, there couldn’t have been much truth in that claim after it knew that 25% to 50% of grades were going to be wrong. This just makes clear again how much Ofqual cares about students. If Gavin Williamson is right about one thing, it’s that Ofqual has to change to gain the public’s trust.

  2. Huy Duong

    I wonder if this goes to court students/schools/ASCL would be able to argue that the schools were acting under false information given by Ofqual when the latter wrote in the guidance “our data shows that for most centres any year-on-year variation in results for a given subject is normally quite small”. But it’s interesting that even after Roger Taylor said they are “extremely sorry”, Ofqual still refuses any redress for the students whose grades have been derailed by the same principles as those behind what Boris Johnson has called a “mutant algorithm”. Did Gavin Williamson not promise at the start that no students will be disadvantaged? Now there are students who are disadvantaged, and to them Ofqual says “Tough”.

  3. Claire Rodgers

    I can’t believe that my sons English language and maths and DT appears to have been down graded? He was expecting a 4 in English (got a 3), expecting a 5 in Maths (got a 4) and a 3 in DT and was super confident in a good level pass in this subject? How can this even be possible. All due to the school following Ofqual guidance (that appears to be the same as the roughest Government Algorithm) that was in the press and condemned so widely. Why has my son got to be penalised because of Ofqual guidance. Not even any real chance of appeal. How on earth did he have to assessed on a ‘rank order’ of the other school students in that year and on the achievements of the students in the school the previous year? Whatever happened to the Government saying ‘all children will get what they deserve’. Fuming!!! I don’t know what I can do now?