New rules 'to cut A-level re-checks'

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The Independent Online

New marking rules mean disappointed A-level students may be deterred from appealing over their grades even if they feel they have a good case, headteachers are warning.

New marking rules mean disappointed A-level students may be deterred from appealing over their grades even if they feel they have a good case, headteachers are warning.

This year, for the first time, examiners have the power to reduce marks or deduct a grade when candidates ask for their papers to be marked again. Up until now they have been permitted only to upgrade pupils.

Headteachers reckon many parents and students may decide not to risk the gamble of an appeal under the new rules.

Exam boards had to ask experienced markers to take on more scripts this year as they coped with marking both A- and AS-levels for the first time. This added pressure may increase pupils' anxiety about the accuracy of grades.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the Government's exams watchdog, has told schools: "Candidates must understand the implications of the process before giving their consent to a clerical re-check or re-mark.

"It is the responsibility of schools and colleges to advise them that their grades may be lowered, raised or confirmed."

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said of the change: "I think it will put off students who have a genuine case but who are worried that by making an appeal they run the risk of being put in a worse situation."

If the level of appeals falls, heads will press examiners to speed up re-marking. John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "I don't think you'll find a headteacher in the country who cannot tell you of a student who has missed out on a university place because of the time it has taken to carry out a re-mark."

Last year of the 774,380 A-level entries, there were 25,406 enquiries about appeals, with 4,644 receiving a grade change.

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