Private school heads attack exam appeals ‘smokescreen’

The BBC is reporting that head teachers of leading independent schools have accused exam regulators of creating a “smokescreen” around soaring numbers of appeals over exam marking.

Last week, the head of exam watchdog Ofqual suggested some schools were making “strategic” use of challenges to A-level and GCSE grades.

But the chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference said the “real issue is inaccurate marking”.

Ofqual has said it is planning improvements to the appeal process.

The university sector’s Supporting Professionalism in Admissions organisation has also called for “greater clarity” about the rising numbers of appeals and grades being changed.

Director Janet Graham said: “This is an area that the awarding organisations and Ofqual could explore in more depth.”

…In the past four years, the number querying results has more than doubled to more than 400,000 and the number getting their grades changed after re-marking has also more than doubled to more than 77,000.

But Chris King, Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) chairman and headmaster of Leicester Grammar School, said there needed to be much more transparency and information about the grades being challenged and changed.

He also criticised the suggestion the increase in appeals was being driven by schools gaming the system to improve their grades

“It is misleading to imply that schools who appeal wrong grades are actually a cause of the problem. This is a smokescreen,” said Mr King.

Instead he blamed “inconsistent marking and grading and a Byzantine appeals process, which Ofqual itself acknowledges is inadequate”.

“Any suggestion that schools of any kind are ‘gaming’ the appeals system is unfair and underserved,” said Mr King…

More at: Private school heads attack exam appeals ‘smokescreen’


So today alone we have two separate stories of headteachers protesting about the quality of marking at A-level and GCSE.

Are they just lashing out unfairly in Ofqual’s direction or is there something seriously wrong with the quality of exam marking at the moment?

Please tell us how you see things in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Private Schools and Secondary.


  1. ded6ajd

    MaryBoustedATL Until we can be sure that appeals R just as likely to result in lower grades as higher grades, the appeals system is suspect

  2. MaryBoustedATL

    ded6ajd Surely the answer must be to increase confidence in grades awarded and reduce no of appeals (which are rising).

  3. MaryBoustedATL

    ded6ajd Surely the answer must be to increase confidence in grades awarded and reduce no of appeals (which are rising).

  4. ded6ajd

    MaryBoustedATL Agreed, of course. Nevertheless, if appeals only result in higher grades, there’s a rabbit away, as we say in the North East

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