Exam appeals overhaul may harm students’ prospects, say headteachers

ITV News, 18.03.16, students' future prospects may be harmed by a planned overhaul of the educational exam appeals system, according to headteachers. HMC and NAHT's joint response to Ofqual proposals on EARs, appeals and the abolition of the Code of Practice is referenced. 

Under proposed changes exam marks will only be changed when there had been a mistake in applying the mark scheme, or in counting the marks.

However, if there is a difference in opinion on how many marks a paper should have been awarded the original mark will stand if considered 'reasonable'.

Leading headteachers' groups the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the National Association of Head Teachers said changes would make it harder for pupils to appeal against GCSE and A-level results while failing to tackle the problem of ensuring that marks are accurate in the first place.

"Students are entitled to a system that gets the marks right first time and is easy to challenge if something goes awry. Their futures depend on this, and their hard work demands it.

Ofqual's test of 'reasonableness' is far too low a bar for marking accuracy. It effectively concedes that there are no objective grounds for preferring one mark over another, which rather calls into question the whole purpose of exams in the first place.

The way to restore confidence in exam marking is to increase transparency and rigour - not to make appeals harder." – NAHT GENERAL SECRETARY RUSSELL HOBBY

Ofqual, which published the proposals to reform appeals, said the current system can be unfair and changes were needed as "the current system can lead some students to get a higher mark on review, even when the first mark was entirely consistent with the mark scheme".