GCSE Appeals Process 2021

Dear Parent, as promised I am writing to give you further details on this summer’s GCSE grading process and in particular the appeals process. I have done this based on the most frequently asked questions which I and headteachers in other schools have been asked.

How were my child’s grades arrived at this year?

Grades this summer were based on Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs). TAGs were submitted to the exam boards by the college as a holistic assessment of students’ performance in a subject, following a rigorous process of assessment, moderation and quality assurance.

These grades were then approved by the relevant exam board, following external quality assurance checks. I can confirm that all grades were awarded by your child’s teachers and that there is no algorithm involved this year.

What do I do if I’m not happy with my child’s grade?

All students have the opportunity to appeal their grade if they meet the eligibility criteria (see below). It is important to note that an appeal may result in a grade being lowered, staying the same, or going up.

There is also the option to resit GCSEs in the autumn, which may be preferrable to some students. The design, content and assessment of these papers will be the same as in a normal year.

What are the grounds for appeal?

There are four main grounds for appeal, as laid out by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). They are:

  • Your child thinks we have made an administrative error: an example of this would be putting the wrong information into a spreadsheet.
  • Your child thinks we have made a procedural error: this means we haven’t properly followed our own process, as approved by the exam board. An example of this would be where a student has been told they should have received extra time for assessments, but this wasn’t given in a certain subject.
  • Your child thinks that the academic judgement on the selection of evidence was unreasonable.
  • Your child thinks that the academic judgement on the grade they were given was unreasonable.

What does ‘unreasonable’ mean?

In this context “unreasonable” means that no teacher acting reasonably could have selected the same evidence or come up with the same grade. This means that just because other forms of evidence may have been equally valid to use, the selection of evidence is not unreasonable. Because of the flexibility of the approach this year, every school and college will have used different forms of evidence.

It is important to note that this means that the independent reviewers will not remark or grade students’ evidence. Instead, they will look to see whether any teacher acting reasonably could have arrived at the same grade based on that evidence.

What will be the outcome of an appeal?

In the appeals process a student’s grade may go up, stay the same, or go down. When submitting an appeal the student will have to sign a declaration saying that they accept the fact their grade may go down and they may get a lower grade than their original TAG.

What is a priority appeal?

Priority appeals are only open to A level students starting university this autumn, who have missed out on the conditions of their firm or insurance offer. Unfortunately there is no priority appeal process for GCSE students.

What should I do before appealing?

Students must read the JCQ Student and Parent guide before appealing, which will be available on the JCQ website by results day, Thursday 12th August.

We may not be able to offer as much advice and guidance on the likely success of an appeal this summer as we would in normal years, as we have already moderated and quality assured all the grades ourselves.

What are the two stages of an appeal?

All appeals, on any of the grounds above, must first go through a centre review. At this stage, we will check for any administrative errors, and check that our policies and procedures were followed correctly. Our policy has already been approved by the exam boards, so we are only ensuring that we followed this properly. The outcome of the centre review will be communicated to students as soon as it is completed

At the centre review stage, if we find that a grade should go up or down, we will ask the exam board to change it. They will then consider this request.

Following the outcome of a centre review, students may still choose to pursue an awarding organisation appeal. They must fill in the relevant paperwork, which we will then send on their behalf to the exam boards. Students and parents cannot send appeals directly to the exam board themselves – it must come from us.

The outcome of the awarding organisation appeal will be communicated to students when made.

How do I make an appeal?

Following results days, students should fill in the first section of the JCQ form here and send it to office@blessededward.co.uk or bring the completed form into college and hand it in at main reception.

What are the deadlines for appeals?

The deadline for submitting a centre review is 3rd September; and the deadline for submitting an awarding organisation appeal is 17th September. Appeals received after these dates may still be considered.

Staff will be in the college on the following dates to handle centre reviews and appeals; Thursday 12th August, Friday 13th August, Monday 16th August and Tuesday 17th August and from Monday 30th August onwards.

You know my child’s grades. Why can’t you tell us?

We are not permitted to disclose the Teacher Assessed Grades to any third party, including students and parents, until results day. Any teacher or member of staff who does this is committing exam malpractice.

Although students may have been given marks or grades on single pieces of evidence, we cannot disclose the final submitted TAG. Another reason is that during the external quality assurance process taking place in June or July, student grades may be moved up or down.

I hope that you find this information helpful. On results day students will be able to collect their grades from 9.30 am in the main college hall, covid restrictions permitting.  Further information related to grading and the appeals process can be found on our college website by following this link https://www.blessededward.co.uk/summer-examinations-2021-appeals-process/ Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any further queries.

Yours sincerely,

Greg McClarey