Exclusive: New rules mean pupils can lose grades through coursework appeals

Exams regulator will end ‘automatic protection’ that gives schools a safeguard against grade drops after results day

The “automatic protection” that safeguards pupils’ GCSE and A-level grades from going down when schools appeal against coursework results is being lost under controversial new measures from Ofqual, TES can reveal.

The exam watchdog’s overhaul of the appeals system will also allow the grades of scores of other pupils to drop after results day – even though they did not appeal – because of a challenge to coursework marks from another school.

Schools say there will now be a disincentive to challenge inaccurate and unfair results.

The changes come because of the way that Ofqual will treat appeals against the moderation of controlled assessment from this summer. The watchdog will, for the first time, allow grades to fall in these circumstances if the moderator was too lenient.

That means schools face a significant new risk in appealing.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said: “Are we now saying that all grades are only a draft? It appears Ofqual is doing everything in its power to stop schools from appealing against their pupils’ results.”

A spokesman for Ofqual said: “Exam boards have always had the potential to change marks and therefore grades after GCSE, AS and A-level results have been issued if they consider it appropriate to do so for any reason other than as a direct result of a review of moderation. Removing automatic protection brings clarity and consistency to the review system.”

The regulator stresses that exam boards will not be forced to pass on grade reductions if it emerges after results day that grades were too high – but they will have to follow Ofqual guidance when deciding whether to do so.

This is an edited version of an article in the 10 June edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full story here, or to subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. You can also download the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. TES magazine is available at all good newsagents.

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