Ofqual delays decisions on exam re-marking reforms

But the qualifications watchdog will press ahead with controversial changes to the appeal process

Ofqual has announced that some key aspects of its exam re-marking reforms will be delayed.

But the exams watchdog is still pressing forward with the controversial changes that will make it harder to successfully appeal against GCSE and A-level exam results this summer.

Under the measures, exam boards will not be allowed to change a mark unless there has been what Ofqual calls a “clear marking error”.

But following a public consultation, the regulator has announced it will defer decisions on a number of proposed changes which were supposed to be available in time for this year’s results. These include:

  • when pupils should be able to ask for re-marks of their GCSE and A-level exams
  • when exam boards should be required to make marked GCSE scripts available to schools
  • the detail of the framework to be used by exam boards to set dates for completion of reviews and appeals
  • when automatic grade protection that currently applies following moderation will be removed

The watchdog’s announcement follows concerns raised by exam boards this week that they had not been given enough time to prepare for the reforms. They warned that Ofqual could not bring in the reforms on schedule “without a very high degree of risk”.

‘Exam boards will need to change their systems’

Today Ofqual said exam boards would still need to provide the reasons for marking review decisions on request, but there would be no “requirement to do this within a specific timescale in 2016”.

The statement said: “This decision acknowledges that the exam boards will need to change their systems before they can respond quickly to requests.”

And yet the regulator is still pressing ahead with a number of significant reforms from this summer. These include:

  • that reviewers should consider whether the first marker made any administrative errors, properly applied the mark scheme and exercised their academic judgement appropriately when deciding if the first mark should stand
  • that A level physics, rather than maths, will be included along with religious studies and geography in a planned pilot to test the new ground of appeal following a review

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