SCHOOL leaders say the ongoing row over English GCSEs will have played a significant part in an increase in the number of exam results which have been sent back by schools to be remarked this year.
Secondary schools submitted almost 280,000 queries following this summer’s GCSE and A-level exams, according to data published by England’s exams regulator Ofqual.
This is up from just over 200,000 in 2011 – a 36 per cent increase.
The queries resulted in more than 45,600 GCSE and A-level grades being changed this year, the figures show.
The record numbers of queries and grade changes come at the same time as a dip in national GCSE and A-level pass rates and a court battle over GCSE English marking. A judicial review is set to take place next month with campaigners, including 11 Yorkshire councils and more than 20 schools, calling for GCSE papers to be remarked.
The row centres on the decision of some exam boards to move grade boundaries between January and June – which led to the same standard of work getting different grades depending on when it was marked.
Campaigners, led by Leeds City Council, claim 10,000 pupils were unfairly given D grades as a result of this. The court action is being taken against exam regulator Ofqual and exam boards AQA and EdExcel.
Malcolm Trobe, policy director at the Association of School and College Leaders which is involved in the challenge said: “In all probability, a significant proportion of the increase in inquiries is going to be about GCSE English.”
Mr Trobe said that, at A-level, the rise in inquiries could be partly down to students who are attempting to secure university places asking for papers to be re-checked. The Government’s decision to allow universities to admit unlimited numbers of students with at least two A grades and a B at A-level could have played a part in this, he said.
Ofqual said there has been “significant revision” to GCSEs and A-levels in the past three years. At A-level, the number of modules students must complete has been cut from six to four, and the A* grade has been introduced. Most GCSE courses have now been split into modules and “controlled assessment” – a new style of coursework completed under classroom supervision – introduced.
Concerns have been raised recently by teachers about the quality of exam marking.
The Ofsted report published yesterday shows that there were 187,356 inquiries about GCSEs, and 91,690 about A-levels.
An Ofqual spokesman said: “These figures show a significant increase in the number of inquiries about results for GCSEs and A-levels, and in the proportion of grades being changed as a result, although this is increasing at a slower rate.
“While there are many external factors that will be driving this, we know that schools are concerned about the quality of marking and we are listening to them.
“It is vital that marking is fair and accurate, especially as we enter a period of significant exams reform, so we are conducting a programme of work to look into this area, including exam board practices and processes, and the appeals process itself.
“But it is also important that we keep these statistics in context. A total of 98 per cent of exam scripts were not subject to any requests, and just 0.54 per cent of all subject certifications were changed.”