Students will be able to use course work to appeal against A-level grades

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Students in England will be able to submit course work in support of appeals against their A-level grades, the exams regulator has said.

After Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced students would be able to use their mock results as evidence for an appeal, Ofqual said non-exam assessments could also be considered.

This means recordings of performances by drama students, art work by arts students and practical projects by technology students could form part of any appeal.

The announcement came as ministers continued to face a furious backlash after thousands of students saw their recommended grades by their teachers downgraded under Ofqual’s standardisation process.

“We will therefore allow a non-exam assessment mark to be used too. Successful appeals on this ground will allow the student to receive the mock grade.”

However Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the whole appeals process had become so “surreal and bureaucratic” it should be abandoned altogether.

He urged the Government drop the moderated grades and to return to the original teacher assessments instead.

“This is clearly a face-saving exercise by a Government which has said that it won’t do a U-turn on its pledge that moderated grades will stand, come what may,” he said.

“Instead, it is attempting to remedy the grading fiasco through an appeals process so surreal and bureaucratic that it would be better off at this point doing that U-turn and allowing original teacher-assessed grades, where they are higher, to replace moderated grades.”

Labour said assurances by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (above) are unravelling (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The regulator said that while mock exams did not usually cover the full range of content, the assessments took into account a student’s performance across the whole course.

“In circumstances where the centre assessment grade was lower than the mock grade, the student will receive the centre assessment grade,” it said.

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said Mr Williamson appeared to be back-tracking on his “triple lock” promise that students could use the highest result out of their calculated grade, their mock grade or actually sitting the exam in the autumn.

“Gavin Williamson promised to give students a triple lock, but instead he left many devastated by unfair exam results, and now his commitment to give them another chance is rapidly unravelling,” she said.

A-level graphic
Grade adjustments for A-levels awarded in England (PA Graphics)

“The latest chaos is the inevitable consequence of this Government’s shambolic approach to exams, which saw solutions dreamt up on the back of a cigarette packet and announced barely a day before young people received their results.”

The system of “moderated” results based on teacher assessment was introduced after actual exams were abandoned due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision by Mr Williamson to allow students to use their mock results in making an appeal was announced less than 48 hours before the A-level results were published on Thursday.

It came after the Scottish government was forced to abandon its system of moderated results in the face of an outcry from students who had seen their grades downgraded, dashing their hopes of a place at the university of their choice.

Mr Williamson has insisted that he will not go down the same road in England, saying that it would lead to “grade inflation” which would render the results worthless.

Ofqual’s criteria for mock results to be considered as part of an appeal include a requirement that the exam was “supervised, unseen and undertaken in conditions that were intended to secure that work was the student’s own”.

It should include “substantial coverage” of the course content, be taken under timed conditions and scored using a marking scheme provided by the relevant exam board.

Ofqual confirmed appeals using mock results could begin from Monday and that the same process would be used for GCSE and AS results as well as for students taking Extended Project Qualifications and Advanced Extension Award in maths.

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