Labour calls for all A Level appeals fees to be waived as thousands of pupils’ results are downgraded
Labour has called for appeals of A Level grades to be made free this year, after figures from Ofqual confirmed that tens of thousands of pupils have seen their results downgraded. Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green has also told Ministers that “nothing should be ruled out” including a Scottish Government-style U-turn.
Ofqual confirmed today that nearly two in five (39.1%) pupils’ A Level grades in England have been downgraded. The figures also confirm that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by downgrades, while students from independent schools have seen top grades disproportionately rise.
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary demanded that the government waive the fee for A Level appeals this year to ensure that no student is unable to challenge their grade if they think it is not accurate.
According to official figures published today by the exams regulator, the number of pupils achieving grade C or above was downgraded from teacher estimations by just over 10% for children from the most disadvantaged background, compared to just over 8% for their most affluent peers.
Meanwhile private school pupils have seen top grades increase far beyond state school peers. After falling by 1.9% last year, the proportion of private school pupils achieving A or A* has increased by almost 5%. That is more than double the increase seen in secondary state schools (2%) and more than 10 times the increase seen in sixth-form colleges (0.3%).
As it stands, schools and colleges are required to pay up front for appeals. Around 280,000 A Level grades have been marked down, and Labour is concerned that many schools could face a financial barrier to supporting their students in challenging grades.
Private schools are currently almost twice as likely as other schools to challenge A Level grades than other schools. Fee paying institutions challenge around 12% of all A Level grades, compared to 5.4% to 8.6% of A Levels in other schools and colleges.
Labour’s call for appeals fees to be waived follows a series of proposals set out by Labour on Tuesday, including individual right to appeal for pupils who feel their grade has been unfairly changed and requiring greater flexibility in admissions from universities and colleges.
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said:
“Across the country, thousands of young people are opening their exam results full of hope, only to see their opportunities and their futures dashed.
“This is a huge injustice. Pupils, parents and teachers are rightly angry and upset.
“The Government has had five months to sort this out. Action is needed in days, not weeks. Students should be guaranteed the right to individual appeals and the fee for appeals should be waived. Students must be treated fairly and nothing should be ruled out, even if Ministers have to follow the U-turn that was forced on the Scottish Government.”
Notes to Editors
- Ofqual figures showing the percentage of candidates achieving grade C or above based on teacher-assessed grades (CAGs) and adjusted grades (calculated grades) by socioeconomic status (SES):
- Ofqual figures showing the % of pupils in different education settings achieving top A Level grades (A and above):
- Schools, colleges, and other education settings are currently required to pay to review and appeal grades, and get this cost refunded only if a grade is changed.
- According to the independent exams regulator Ofqual, private schools are far more likely to appeal their grades.
“Overall, independent schools tended to submit a greater percentage of their qualification entries, at both GCSE and A level (11.9%).” Other school types submitted 5.4% to 8.6% of their A Level qualification entries for an enquiry
- Despite submitting far more grades for review, independent schools are not more likely to succeed in having grades changed. This suggests that the issue is not the merits of appeals, but rather that private schools are better resourced to challenge these decisions.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/526064/2015_EAR_subject-level_analyses.pdf, Table 8, p35
- There were around 108,000 reviews of A Level grades in the 2018/19 exam year
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/851640/Reviews_of_marking_and_moderation_for_GCSE_and_GCE_summer_2019_series.pdf, pp 3-4
- Labour has called on the Prime Minister to ensure a generation of young people were not robbed of their future by this year’s exam results. He called for far greater flexibility in admissions to higher and further education, greater transparency in the process, allowing individual students to appeal their grades, and ensuring that nobody is standardised to below a Grade 4 in GCSE Maths and English next week.