Plans for major overhaul of exam re-marking could be delayed

Exam boards have told Ofqual they could not bring in the reforms on schedule ‘without a very high degree of risk’

Plans to overhaul GCSE and A-level re-marking, due to come into force this summer, could be held up after exam boards told Ofqual it had not given them enough time to prepare for the reforms.

The exams watchdog announced last month that, from this summer, it would become harder for pupils to successfully challenge their exam grades. New rules would place strict limits on the circumstances in which those re-marking papers could give pupils higher marks.

Other reforms included lifting a ban on pupils being allowed to challenge their own grades directly, rather than through their school, and widening the grounds on which schools could escalate complaints about marks. ​

It said the reforms aimed to make the appeals system fairer for all pupils.

In their response to an Ofqual consultation on the plans, published today, exam boards say they do not have enough time to overhaul their processes in time for this summer’s results season, blaming the burden of ongoing exam reforms.

“We consider that the level of system development and testing required, at a time when the awarding organisations have prioritised and are already committing significant development resource to the delivery of the government’s [exam] reforms, effectively rules out this summer, 2016 and next, without a very high degree of risk,” the document says.

However, it says the boards would be able to review their instructions to the markers. This would “attempt to reduce the likelihood” that they would simply give pupils a higher grade in a re-mark based on a more generous interpretation of the mark scheme, it says.

Ofqual has been contacted for comment.

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