Private schools should pay more for exams re-marking to make system fair, leading headteacher says

Posted on: 2018-08-18 15:30:00

Shaun Fenton, head of Reigate Grammar School and the incoming chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistress’ Conference (HMC), said that exam re-marks are an issue of “social justice”.

His comments comes as thousands of children are expected to be disappointed on GCSE results day this Thursday, with experts claiming that as many as one in four grades could be unreliable.

“It is a social justice issue that some schools representing particular demographics put in for low or no remarks. If it didn’t cost any more that would be fine,” Mr Fenton told the Sunday Telegraph.

He said it is “easier” for private schools to resolve issues with exam grades by sending papers off to be remarked, since they are not constrained by the costs of an appeal.  “Our schools will always find the funds to pay for a remark - but we want it to be more accessible,” he added.

As the incoming chair of HMC, Mr Fenton will represent over 250 the country’s most prestigious schools, including Eton, Harrow and Winchester.

Mr Fenton said one solution was to make all appeals free of charge. Failing that, he said he has suggested to Ofqual, the exam regulator, that prices could be restructured so that private schools paid more for appeals so that state schools could have a lower fee or none at all.

“We have come up with a variety of models but they haven’t got any traction yet,” he said. “But I think they will.”

Exam boards levy a range of charges for GCSE re-marks depending on what services are desired. A “clerical check” - which ensures that all the pages were marked and all the marks were added up correctly - is the least expensive, costing £16.90 with OCR, £11.10 with EdExcel or £8.05 with AQA.

Meanwhile, a “priority review of marking” is £45.40 with EdExcel, rising to £61.60 for Drama. A review of marking with AQA is £37.55, while OCR charges £102 for a review of marking “with individual report”. Most boards waive the fees if the grade is changed as a result of the remark.

Last year EdExcel made it possible for the first time for schools to download all A-level and GCSE scripts for free, in an attempt to cut down on appeal requests.

At the heart of the appeals issue is the “lack of certainty” about grades awarded in the first place, Mr Fenton explained.

“In the end all we want is for it to be fair,” he said. “Two markers could come up with an interpretation that would differ, and that could leave [the student] either side of a grade boundary. If we will have high stakes outcomes, we can’t merely accept that it could have been A or B depending the marker."

Source: The Telegraph

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