Download the full outcome
Detail of outcome
We set out our decisions in the attached document.
Some of our decisions are the same as we proposed in our consultation. We have revised some of our proposals in light of responses to the consultation and our subsequent analysis.
Stakeholders also raised some specific concerns about when our proposals should be implemented. They told us that there were disproportionate costs and risks to the exam system that would arise for schools, colleges and exam boards if some of our proposals were implemented in 2016. We are therefore seeking further views on when some of the changes should be introduced and information on their possible impact.
We recognise that with some of the changes we are introducing it is likely exam boards will need time to develop and refine their systems and approaches. The arrangements that are initially put in place in the first years will be in the context of what is achievable. We expect that exam boards will develop their approach over time and with the benefit of experience. Where we do not consider that exam boards are able immediately to meet our requirements, at even a minimal level, without incurring disproportionate costs or creating risks to the wider exam system, we have adapted or phased the implementation of our proposals.
Detail of feedback received
A public consultation was conducted between 10 December 2015 and 11 March 2016.
The main way to respond was via an online survey with other options to submit unstructured responses by email or post.
In addition to the main consultation survey, Ofqual also ran a survey with students. The student survey asked four short questions grouped around two scenarios.
At the end of the consultation there were 91 responses to the main consultation (81 questionnaire responses and 10 unstructured responses), and 1,348 responses to the student survey.
Summary of key responses
There was a high level of agreement on a number of the topics in the questionnaire. This included support for the review of marking and appeals of GCSE, AS and A levels and for extending the proposals to qualifications beyond GCSE, AS and A levels.
There was disagreement on whether or not there should be standardisation of processes between awarding organisations.
Other topics, such as withdrawing the Code and when to implement the changes, had more mixed responses. In many cases, school-based responses and those from parents and students contrasted with those of the awarding organisations. Responses from other stakeholder groups were more variable.
Overall, there was a tendency for all stakeholders to agree with proposals that were perceived to enhance:
- openness, transparency and fairness
- faith and trust in the system
- commonality of approach between awarding organisations
There was a tendency to disagree with proposals if and when they were perceived to:
- undermine teachers’ professional judgement
- be vague
- not enhance openness, transparency and fairness
This consultation is about three distinct but inter-related proposals:
To improve the way concerns about a candidate’s GCSE, AS or A level marks are considered by exam boards. Our proposals apply to new GCSEs, AS and A levels and to legacy GCSEs, AS and A levels while these continue to be available.
To withdraw the GCSE, GCE, Principal Learning and Project Code of Practice (the Code) which contains the rules exam boards must follow when they deliver and award legacy GCSEs, AS and A levels and Principal Learning and Project qualifications. The Code includes the current rules on reviewing marks and appeals.
To introduce new procedural rules on how exam boards set grade boundaries for GCSEs, AS and A levels. The current rules for the legacy qualifications are in the Code. The proposals are about the procedures of grade boundary setting only, not about the substantive decisions as to where they are set.
Our proposals would:
change the way exam boards review their marking and moderation of GCSE, AS and A level assessments, including so they correct mistakes but do not change legitimate marks
extend the grounds on which centres3, (and in some cases candidates), following a review, can appeal against marking and moderation decisions for GCSEs, AS and A levels, so appeals can be about unreasonable marks/decisions as well as procedures
remove duplication in our rules and remove some rules we consider to be unnecessary, whilst making sure exam boards take a common approach to setting grade boundaries for GCSEs, AS and A levels
The supporting research for this document is available in our published research paper, “Alternative marking review processes for exams”