Generous exam re-marks may give wealthy pupils ‘unfair advantage’, Ofqual director warns

The TES is reporting that a senior Ofqual director has claimed wealthy pupils have an “unfair advantage” under a generous GCSE re-marking system that upgrades students’ scores even though the original mark was valid.

Dr Ian Stockford, Ofqual’s executive director for general qualifications, told a conference that re-marks of exam scripts sometimes led to “legitimate marks” being upgraded – because long-answer questions required a degree of professional judgement from the marker.

Those who could afford to pay for papers to be reviewed and exploit this phenomenon could have an advantage, therefore, over those who could not. Exam boards charge a fee for papers to be remarked, but return the fee if the grade is changed.

“Schools or parents who can afford to pay for a review of their marks may be given an unfair advantage, not because they are getting marking errors corrected that they wouldn’t otherwise but simply because they are seeking a legitimate mark that they have been awarded to be overturned,” he said.

He explained that marking long answers required an element of professional judgement and different examiners could legitimately award different marks to the same answer. In some cases long answers were marked more generously on re-mark even though the original mark was “a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the mark scheme.”

In comments that will be interpreted as a sign that the watchdog plans to tighten the rules on re-marks, Dr Stockford said: “In the current system, exam boards rightly correct genuine marking errors but they can also sometimes change legitimate marks…”

More at: Generous exam re-marks may give wealthy pupils ‘unfair advantage’, Ofqual director warns


Would you welcome a change in this direction on the basis that remarking has, potentially, become a strategy for the better-off (or those at better-off schools)?

Please let us know what you think in the comments or via Twitter…


Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link 

Head of a cash-strapped state school asks parents to plug budget shortfalls
British schools warned against taking trips to France as state of emergency continues
Categories: Policy and Secondary.


  1. Stevius

    There wouldn’t be an advantage if papers were marked correctly in the first place for all students.

    In my academy so many students went up in one subject following initial queries that a whole year group was remarked by the exam board . Some students moved from grade C to A*. This is clearly not acceptable.

    Exam boards are paid a huge amount of money – it is their responsibility to ensure all students examinations are marked correctly.

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove I don’t understand, in the face of these types of news stories, staff at Ofqual, in particular Glenys Stacey, remain in work

  3. ian_bec

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove yes it should be equally unfair for all. (Launched 50+ appeals this year, c40% marks up, none down.) Crazy.

  4. andylutwyche

    ian_bec SchoolsImprove The fact that so many grades are being changed year on year is a worry. Ofqual is not fit for purpose it seems

  5. ian_bec

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove appeals now a normalised part of the process. (A plus actually of being well armed with data, to challenge).

  6. ian_bec

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove all a consequence of badly managed exam reform and pressure on examiners to mark down not up.

  7. andylutwyche

    ian_bec SchoolsImprove Yes indeed – generates yet more funds for exam boards I presume. Exams have become too “business-y”, less “quality”

  8. ian_bec

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove it does but if you win you don’t pay. Also if there’s any guy in a school with money, it’s the exams officer.

  9. ian_bec

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove even worse in Wales if that’s any consolation. Less notice of change and new specs. And we didn’t vote for it.

  10. andylutwyche

    ian_bec SchoolsImprove Fair point – that doesn’t make right though. Is it really desirable for schools’ biggest spend to be on exams?

  11. andylutwyche

    ian_bec SchoolsImprove Yes indeed – it would be more worrying if schools’ biggest spend weren’t on teachers (I emphasise the teachers bit)

  12. ian_bec

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove I guess that when exams cost more than staff we’ll have gone past the tipping point. One day soon maybe.

  13. ian_bec

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove and this term have lost significant time with y11 owing to various Maths English and PISA exams & mocks,

  14. andylutwyche

    ian_bec SchoolsImprove Yet you will still be hauled over the coals if your exam results dip despite numerous lessons missed

  15. ian_bec

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove indeed. Apparently “you can say that to us, Ian, but not to inspectors or the consortium.”

  16. andylutwyche

    ian_bec SchoolsImprove Good. Although it’s another admin task to add to the pile of admin tasks you shouldn’t need to do

  17. ian_bec

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove it does need some gardening from time to time. But not yet such a big number that it needs a board of its own!

  18. ian_bec

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove if I ever ask for advice about how to write very big numbers without a load of zeroes, you’ll know why.

  19. sacha_mbe

    SchoolsImprove it’s not a secret money buys you education, an unfair advantage & opens doors, so poor students will loose out FACT

Let us know what you think...