‘Rogue’ and novice exam markers risk pupils’ futures

The Sunday Times is reporting concerns from headteachers that thousands of pupils may have had their futures blighted by faulty marking of GCSE and A-level papers, according to head teachers…

One said he believed there was “a rogue marker at work”.

At Brighton College, a leading boarding school in East Sussex, more than 200 pupils’ GCSE English and religious studies papers are being re-marked after the AQA exam board admitted some of the results were “concerning”. It has apologised to the school.

Sixth-formers at the college have seen huge rises in their scores — in one case from a U to an A grade — after the school also appealed against several unexpected A-level results.

Head teacher Richard Cairns said “thousands of children nationwide” were likely to be affected by poor marking of this summer’s exams. “Bad marking can cost youngsters their place at a top university and change the whole pattern of their life,” he said. He blamed poorly paid and inexperienced markers and urged the government to act.

Teaching unions will this week send a survey to every state secondary school to ask for evidence from heads who want to challenge the marking in this summer’s exams. Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Lecturers, said: “We are aware of hundreds of schools which have submitted appeals and have had marks changed. We are so concerned that we are now monitoring the extent of this nationwide.”

Lightman said in some state schools, which rarely query exam grades because of the £40 charge to challenge each paper, many children risked not getting the results they deserved and had worked for.

“It is a lot of money to get exams re-marked and that is a deterrent for state schools,” he said. “The volatility in results has undermined confidence in the exam system.”

Finn Maunder, 18, a Brighton College sixth-former who was predicted to get three A* grades at A-level, had his hopes of a Cambridge place dashed when one of his history papers for the OCR exam board was scored as a D last month.

“We couldn’t believe a young man with so many A*s at GCSE and with genuine Oxbridge aspirations could do so badly in the A-level subject he loved most,” said Cairns. After the school challenged the result, the board raised the grade to A*…

More at: ‘Rogue’ and novice exam markers risk pupils’ futures (subscription required)


Do you share these concerns about the quality of marking? Is it a question of a few mistakes being made, which might be almost inevitable amongst the large numbers of papers being marked, or is there something more seriously wrong here? Please share your thoughts and experiences 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!

Research suggests number of schools failing to hit official GCSE targets is set to soar
Norfolk school admits 'ill-judged comment' ahead of Ofsted visit
Categories: Secondary.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove An still Glenys Stacey sits there oblivious to it all. Ofqual costs the taxpayer £18m per year (2012-13 figure) for what?

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Seems to be almost endless stories along similar lines. Pay is “poor” because they’re businesses competing for schools

  3. sam_jane80

    kevinjamesriley SchoolsImprove highly agree. Wholly inadequate! Still waiting for our remarks as marks didn’t make sense!!!

  4. judecole

    kevinjamesriley SchoolsImprove & the cutting of face-to-face meetings by exam boards-relying on online standardisation isn’t satisfactory

  5. AndyDefinite

    kevinjamesriley SchoolsImprove Actually life would be so easy if inexperienced markers WAS the only problem with our examination system!

  6. WakelingRobert

    kevinjamesriley SchoolsImprove used to be a very small percentage that improved upon remark, this year, 4 out of 9 went up. #WorthAPunt

  7. chemucation

    @SchoolsImprove Awful! I’ve just had an A’level student receive their marks after a remark. 3 out of the 4 papers contained errors in marking.

  8. Aveda

    I wonder how many of Brighton College’s staff mark exams?  Do they give back to the system the wealth of their knowledge (as we are told they have so much better teachers in the independent sector) or do they all go on holiday earlier than state teachers, and so miss the main weeks at end of June, beginning of July, when most marking takes place?

Let us know what you think...