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Unhappy with your ‘A’ Level grades?

Receiving your A ‘Level results is an important milestone in any student’s life. The way results are calculated has had to change due to COVID-19. Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education has today announced a ‘safety net’ and a ‘triple lock’ system in a last-minute turnaround to bring about fairness. The move in England comes after 76,000 pupils in Scotland had their results upgraded after being lowered by a moderating system which critics claimed was a “postcode lottery” as it linked pupils’ results with their schools’ past performances.

The change means that if you get an estimated grade lower than their mock exam you can appeal but this will have to be through your school.

The Government guidance can be found here.

What is considered when calculating grades?

Schools and colleges have been asked to provide a centre assessment grade for each student in each subject. That is the grade that they would be most likely to have achieved had they sat the exam. Judgement should be balanced and based on sources of evidence such as classwork, book work, any participation in performance subjects, non-examination assessments, mock results, previous exam results, any other record of student performance over the course of study. The school is also asked to rank students in terms of the strongest through to the weakest pupil per grade.

To make sure that grades are as fair as possible, exam boards will put all centre assessment grades through a process of standardisation using a model developed by Ofqual. There are calls from unions etc to make this process transparent.

The Appeal Process:

This will be based on whether the process used the right data and was correctly applied rather than seeking to overturn teachers’ professional judgement on individual students’ ability.

You cannot challenge your school on the centre assessment grade(s) it submitted or your rank order position(s) because it is believed that your teacher is the only person equipped make that assessment. Also, because of the role of the rank order in grading this year, such an appeal would affect other students in your cohort: if one student successfully appealed against their position in the rank order, it would have negative implications for other students who would, in turn, need to be given an opportunity to appeal;

You can ask your school or college to check whether it made a mistake when submitting your centre assessment grade(s) or your position in the rank order(s). If it finds it made a mistake in the data, it provided it can ask the exam board to correct it. Your school or college can appeal to the exam board on your behalf if it believes the exam board used the wrong data when it calculated your grade(s), or made a mistake when it communicated your grade(s). Your school or college can appeal if it believes the historical data used for standardisation was not a reliable basis for predicting its 2020 results. This might include situations where:

  • there has been a substantial change in the demographic make-up of the centre, for example if a single-sex school has changed to co-educational, or
  • where a school or college experienced a monumental event one year (such as flooding or fire which meant students had to re-locate) which affected one year’s results in the historical data used in the model, or
  • where a school or college has evidence that results this year were likely to show a very different pattern of grades to results in previous years, including where a school or college is concerned about the way the statistical model could affect individual high-ability students who might be expected to receive results that are out of line with the school or college’s historical results

Students who feel that they would have done better had they sat an exam should be afforded the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, it is likely to be no earlier than October.

The advice from UCAS is to go through clearing and appeal in parallel if there are grounds to do so.

If I choose to sit an exam in October will I loose my place at my chosen university?

UCAS advises students to speak to individual university’s directly, many offered a delayed start option.

Contact an education law specialist

If you need any advice on how best to understand your options and how to navigate the appeal system give our Education Team a call on 0115 9599550. Our expert solicitors will be more than happy to assist you.

Alternatively use the contact form below.

We are currently offering a fixed fee arrangement of £300 plus VAT to produce a letter outlining grounds of appeal to the school and/or exam board.

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