Record numbers of GCSE and A-level papers remarked

Figures show 48 per cent increase in exam papers queried by schools

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The Independent Online

Head teachers have warned of a growing crisis of confidence in the examination system after it emerged that record numbers of GCSE and A-level grades had been overturned on appeal.

Exam regulator Ofqual conceded that teachers’ trust in the examination system had declined, and promised action to restore public faith.

Figures published by Ofqual show a 48 per cent increase in exam papers queried by schools – the figure for GCSEs rose 56 per cent to 305,400, while A-level queries rose 34 per cent to 145,150. Queries resulted in 45,500 grades being changed, in comparison with 39,650 last year. 

Head teachers’ leaders had predicted a rise in complaints as a result of reforms coming into force for the first time this summer – axing coursework and putting more emphasis on end-of-course exams, for which schools reported wide fluctuations in grades.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the association of School and College Leaders, said: “There is a growing lack of confidence in the exam system which has been exacerbated by frequent and ad hoc changes to qualifications. Schools need to be able to trust the marks given to students.”

Ofqual said it was launching an evaluation of the training for markers – and demanding exam boards improve the quality of marking.

Glenys Stacey, Ofqual’s chief regulator, said: “Teachers and others should expect marking to be of good quality and are quite rightly perplexed… when marks change considerably on appeal.”