Ofqual calls for schools to be given right to see marked GCSE papers

The watchdog has also called for specially-trained reviewers, rather than ordinary examiners, to check marking where results are queried.

The news follows the revelation that the number of GCSE and A-level exam grades has soared by 27 per cent over the lat year.

In response to the statistical findings, Ofqual launched a consultation on the future of its reviews and appeals process proposing several changes.

The proposal includes the extension of the right for schools to request exam papers, currently only allowed for AS and A-levels, to include GSCEs.

Glenys Stacey, chief regulator in charge of launching the consultation, maintained the consultation was a ’significant move’, which would be welcomed by schools. However, Stacey also acknowledged the ‘administrative demand’ it would place on exam boards.

She said: “We don’t generally make proposals which are going to be unmanageable. So far, exam boards are telling us this is doable, but this is a consultation, and we will be particularly interested in the responses from exam boards.”

The proposal has been welcomed, with caution, by several exam boards and their representative body, the Joint Council for Qualifications, which assured remarks were already carried out predominantly by senior examiners.

A WJEC spokesperson said the exam board was ‘considering the practicalities of introducing new procedures and the impact this may have on us and on schools’.

Ian Stockford, Ofqual’s executive director for general qualifications, said Ofqual had made sure it engaged with boards on the proposals, adding that it was ‘worth recognising’ that the changes were ultimately aimed at changing behaviours to prevent schools indiscriminately challenging marks in the hope of a positive outcome.

He said: “What we’re trying to move towards is a position where, when genuine errors are observed, they are rightly challenged and rightly addressed. That is the endgame that we are seeking, and without giving that transparency and empowering people to look at that work and those judgments, we won’t achieve those behaviours.”

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