GCSE - BTEC - A Level 2021
Exam Appeals Summer 2021
Earlier this year, the government announced that students will not take formal GCSE and A level exams this summer and will instead be awarded grades determined by their teachers' judgements, based on a range of evidence like coursework and assessment tests.
The school has taken multiple steps to make sure these grades reflect students’ performance. Teachers have received clear guidance and support with grading and making objective decisions to enable grades to be fair.
There is also a rigorous system to ensure fairness in place, including checks in school and by exam boards.
We have made students and families aware of the evidence being used to determine grades and given opportunity for issues and concerns to be raised. Effective arrangements have been made for students that have been disadvantaged during an assessment that contributes to their grade by taking the circumstances into account in determining grades or by using alternative evidence that was unaffected by the adverse circumstances. We have made effective provision of access arrangements / reasonable adjustments for all eligible students.
For more information on how grades have been awarded and the process that will ensure they are fair, click here.
If a student thinks an error has been made in their grade, an appeals system has been put in place as a safety net for exceptional circumstances, and to fix any genuine errors that were not identified earlier in the process. Please read the JCQ student guide which outlines the options available to students if they think there has been an error in their grading.
Overview of the appeals process
Stage 1 - school review - procedural and administrative errors
Students may make an appeal to the school if they believe the school has failed to follow its procedures properly or consistently in arriving at that result or has made an administrative error in relation to the result. Prior to our submission of grades to the exam boards a number of checks were carried out in each subject to avoid administrative errors. Whilst it is therefore unlikely that an error would have been made, a further check of this can be made on request.
The Stage 1 Appeals Form (please click the link and save the document to your device before completing the form) must be completed and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The grounds for appeal must be clearly stated, outlining how the school failed to follow its procedures properly and consistently and why that failure was important to determining the grade, and/or the administrative error the school made and what difference it made to the determination of the grade.
Students should be aware that grades may be raised, stay the same or be lowered as a result of a review.
In line with JCQ guidance, the School’s deadline is 16 August 2021 for stage 1 priority appeals (where year 13 students have not met the requirements of their firm / first choice university offer). In all other cases the school’s deadline for stage 1 appeals will be 3 September 2021. Those considering making a priority appeal are advised to do so with all deliberate speed.
The appellant will be informed of the outcome in writing. If the appeal is upheld and this would affect teachers’ holistic judgement of grade outcomes the school will communicate with the examination board concerned to seek an adjustment to the formally published results.
Stage 2 - appeals to the examination boards - Priority
If the appellant is not in agreement with the Stage 1 School Review, they can subsequently make an appeal to the examination board. This must be communicated through the school. The deadlines to submit these stage 2 appeals to the examination boards are 23 August 2021 for priority appeals (year 13 students who have not met their firm/first choice university offer). To allow time for the school to process priority stage 2 appeals and submit them to the examination boards by 23 August we require students to email the Stage 2 Appeals Form (please click the link and save the document to your device before completing the form) to email@example.com by 10am on Friday 20 August.
Stage 2 - appeals to the examination boards - Non Priority
If the appellant is not in agreement with the Stage 1 School Review, they can subsequently make an appeal to the examination board. This must be communicated through the school. The deadlines to submit these stage 2 appeals to the examination boards are 17 September 2021 for priority appeals (year 13 students who have not met their firm/first choice university offer).
To allow time for the school to process priority stage 2 appeals and submit them to the examination boards by 17 September we require students to email the Stage 2 Appeals Form (please click the link and save the document to your device before completing the form) to firstname.lastname@example.org by 3pm on Wednesday 15 September.
Stage 2 appeals to an examination board will seek to establish whether there has been an unreasonable exercise of academic judgement and/or whether the school has followed its procedures properly and consistently in arriving at the student’s result or in conducting its review and/or whether the awarding organisation has made an administrative error.
The Stage 2 Appeals Form must be completed and emailed to email@example.com. The grounds for appeal must be clearly stated. The examination boards have promised to aim to process appeals within 42 days of their receipt. Students should be aware that grades may be raised, stay the same or be lowered as a result of a review.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do if I think there has been an error with my grade?
If you think a grade is incorrect when you receive your results, speak to a teacher in the first instance.
If you still think your grade is incorrect after the school has checked it, you can ask the school to appeal to the exam board. You should be aware that on appeal, grades could go up, down, or stay the same and the exam board’s decision will be final.
You should consider carefully if appealing is the right course of action for you. An appeal will only be successful if either an error is found or the grade awarded or the selection of evidence are found to be an unreasonable exercise of academic judgement.
The exam boards will not be able to consider appeals that are based solely on differences of opinion. If you want to improve your grade you might want to consider entering for the autumn exam series
If I think there has been an error and want to appeal my grade, do I do that with the school or exam board?
You should raise any request with the school and follow the process that the school has defined.
The school will conduct a centre review to check if there were any administrative errors when the grade was submitted and to check if the procedures have been followed correctly. If you still think your grade has been awarded in error after the result of the centre review, the school must submit an appeal to the exam board on your behalf, if you ask it to do so.
The exam board will carry out an independent review of the process followed and whether the overall grade awarded was a reasonable exercise of academic judgement based on the evidence or if the selection of evidence used was a reasonable exercise of academic judgement.
In some cases, the exam board may need to ask the school to reassess your grade or the evidence that was used in determining your grade.
Once the review is complete, the exam board will decide a final grade for you. If the final grade is lower than the original teacher assessed grade, it will go down. If the result is higher, it will go up. Once the final grade has been issued after the review, it will be final.
What might happen to my grade during the centre review and appeals process?
If you request a centre review or an exam board appeal, there are a range of possible outcomes:
- Your original grade is changed, so your final grade will be different from the original grade you received. Your grade can go up or down.
- Your original grade is confirmed, so there is no change to your grade.
Once a finding has been made you cannot withdraw your request for a centre review or appeal. If your grade has been lowered, you will not be able to revert back to the original grade you received on results day.
When do I need to submit my request?
There are priority and non-priority appeal routes. Priority appeals are only for students applying to higher education who did not attain their firm choice (i.e. the offer they accepted as their first choice) and wish to appeal an A level or other Level 3 qualification result. All other appeals must follow the non-priority route.
You should submit a request for a centre review by 16 August 2021 for a priority appeal, or by 3 September 2021 for non-priority appeals.
Once you have received the outcome of your centre review, if you wish to request an awarding organisation appeal you should do so as soon as possible. The school will submit this on your behalf.
The schools will submit requests for awarding organisation appeals on behalf of students by 23 August for a priority appeal and 17 September for non-priority appeals.
How will this affect my university or college place?
If you have not met the conditions of your firm choice on a higher education course you are eligible for a priority appeal and will need to submit your request for a centre review by 16 August. It is important that you submit your request for a centre review before this deadline to enable this process to happen swiftly.
UCAS has encouraged HE providers to move their advisory deadline to 8 September, giving students additional time to meet the academic terms of their offer. Students who do decide to appeal, should contact their preferred higher education provider to make them aware.
What are the grounds for appeal?
There are four main grounds for appeal, as dictated by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). They are:
- You think the school has made an administrative error: an example of this would be putting the wrong information into a spreadsheet.
- You think the school has made a procedural error: this means the school has not properly followed its own process, as approved by the exam board. An example of this would be where you’ve been told you should have received extra time for assessments, but this wasn’t given in a certain subject.
- You think the academic judgement in the selection of evidence was unreasonable: you think the evidence used to grade you was not reasonable.
- You think the academic judgement in the determination of your grade was unreasonable.
What does ‘unreasonable’ mean?
Reasonable in this context allows for normal variation in academic judgement between two professionals with appropriate subject knowledge and understanding of the Ofqual and JCQ requirements. The teacher’s exercise of judgement will not be considered unreasonable simply because an alternative exercise of judgement would have resulted in a more or less favourable result for the individual student. The teacher’s judgement will be considered unreasonable only if it is such that no teacher acting reasonably could have reached the same judgement. A grade will only be considered unreasonable if the reviewer considers that the student’s performance evidence is clearly and unequivocally indicative of a higher or lower grade.
Teacher assessed grades will be determined in summer 2021 based on evidence verified by the school and reviewed by the exam boards who designed each course. The professional judgment of teachers will be based on what you have been taught and the school will use a range of evidence to determine the standard you are performing at in each subject.
It should be no easier or harder for you to achieve a grade this year based on your performance than in previous years. The evidence being used has been shared with families. The outcomes of all of these will be considered in the process of determining final grades.
Students and families have the opportunity to raise any genuine and valid concerns about the proposed evidence being used, for example, if a section of teaching has been missed due to valid reasons such as family bereavement or long-term illness. These concerns can be raised by completing the relevant Range of Evidence Google Form linked below. It is important to raise any such concerns before the school submits grades.
Students and families also have the opportunity to inform us of any mitigating circumstances that have been experienced by completing the relevant Mitigating Circumstances Google Form below.
All information relating to Range of Evidence and Mitigating Circumstances must be communicated to the school using the Google Forms as soon as possible and by 3pm on Monday 7 June 2021 at the latest.
Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) have produced a guidance document - JCQ Guidance for students, parents and guardians: GCSEs and AS/A Levels in England Summer 2021
Ofqual’s student guide to awarding: summer 2021 - Ofqual have now published their new student guide to awarding: summer 2021. This guide offers support for students taking GCSEs, A levels, vocational and technical qualifications this year. It is written for students and complements the materials that have already been published for teachers. It also contains important advice on where students and their families can go for more information and support, including support for those with mental health concerns.