News story

Release of consultation on marking reviews, appeals and related changes

A summary of Ofqual's proposed changes for exam marking reviews, appeals, grade boundaries and Code of Practice for GCSEs, AS and A levels.

Ofqual is today (10 December) launching a consultation on three inter-related sets of proposals, covering:

  • the review and appeal systems used by exam boards in England for addressing concerns about a candidate’s GCSE, AS or A level marks
  • updating the rules that give effect to exam boards’ review appeal systems
  • new rules for how exam boards should set grade boundaries for new and legacy GCSEs, AS and A levels

Today’s proposals for changing the review and appeals systems stem from the results of a year-long study into the quality of marking that we published last year and extended conversations with school representatives. We would encourage anybody with an interest in GCSEs, AS and A levels to read our proposals and respond by 11 March 2016.

Glenys Stacey, Chief Regulator, said:

This year we have seen another increase in appeals. Schools want to do the best for their students which is understandable given the importance of GCSE, AS and A level grades on their future prospects, but it also reflects teachers’ increasing lack of confidence in marking and the current appeals system. We believe the evidence-based proposals put forward today will improve transparency and fairness. But most importantly, these changes will reduce the disappointment and frustration that too many students and teachers currently encounter when navigating exam boards’ appeal systems.

Ian Stockford, Executive Director for General Qualifications, said:

We want a system that corrects marking errors but does not give candidates who challenge their marks an unfair advantage over those who do not. In other words, we want a system that is fair. This is about making sure students get the right results, boosting schools’ confidence in the system.

Review and appeals

(Part A, beginning page 12)

In summary, we are proposing that from summer 2016:

  • teachers should be able to request to see all marked GCSE, AS and A level scripts before deciding if they want them to be reviewed - at the moment only AS and A level scripts are routinely accessible in this way
  • the focus of a review should be on the quality of the original marker’s work and application of the mark scheme
  • papers should be reviewed by markers specifically trained to review someone else’s marking and have received that training at the right time
  • marks should only be changed where there is an error in applying the mark scheme or in counting the marks (a system error) - where there is a legitimate difference of opinion in application of the mark scheme between two markers, the original mark should stand - at the moment this happens in some but not all cases

To support today’s launch we have summarised the main changes in an infographic and are publishing the detailed research undertaken to identify our preferred proposals - part C, pages 83-93.

Introduction of new conditions and withdrawal of the GCSE, GCE, Principal Learning and Project Code of Practice

(Part B, beginning page 31 and part C, beginning page 43)

To implement the proposals set out above, we need to put in place some new rules and remove some others. In summary, we need to:

  • introduce new conditions for reviews of marking, moderation and appeals
  • remove the Code of Practice which contains the existing rules for reviews of marking, moderation and appeals

Setting grade boundaries

(Part D, beginning page 46)

The Code of Practice includes rules that exam boards follow when setting grade boundaries for legacy GCSEs, AS and A levels. The rules are designed to make sure candidates are treated consistently, regardless of their exam board. As we withdraw the Code of Practice, we propose to broadly to replicate these existing rules and to apply them to both new and legacy GCSEs, AS and A levels.