Proposed changes to exam re-marking could harm pupils’ futures, union warns

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference have warned that pupils could be harmed by Ofqual’s proposals to make it harder for schools to successfully challenge GCSE and A-level grades.

The unions have urged the exam regulator to abandon the plans which they claimed are ‘unpersuasive, misdirected and likely to make the current unsatisfactory situation worse.’

Ofqual has proposed that the boards should be able to raise a pupil’s GCSE or A-level grade following a school’s challenge only if a second examiner can vouch that the original mark was unreasonable. However, the head teacher’s unions argue that the test of reasonableness is a ‘low bar’ for marking accuracy that will make challenges harder, mounting the odds against candidates who have been marked poorly.

The unions added that a proper re-mark was ‘the only credible response to a query about marking accuracy’.

Michael Turner, director general of the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents the exam boards, said: “It’s disappointing that some organisations have decided to undermine the tens of thousands of teachers who, each year, mark exam papers to a world-class standard.

“Where grades change, most are due to a legitimate difference in the two examiners’ judgements and this is often found in subjects like English or history where there’s a level of interpretation. It’s a misunderstanding of the system to claim this equals poor marking.”

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