Exam appeals should be free because middle class pupils have unfair advantage

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Exam appeals should be free because middle class pupils have an unfair advantage, a private school chief has said.Shaun Fenton, chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference which represents the country’s leading schools including Eton College and Harrow School, said it “doesn’t seem fair” that some pupils are more likely to get their grades changed than others.Exam boards levy a range of charges for GCSE and A-level re-marks depending on what services are desired. A “clerical check” – which ensures that all the pages were marked and all the marks were added up correctly – is the least expensive, costing £8.05 for GCSEs and £16.10 for A levels with AQA.Meanwhile, a “priority review of marking” is more expensive, costing up to £46.40 with EdExcel for GCSEs, rising to £55.90 for A-levels.For AQA, it is £37.55  for GCSE and £51.75 for A-levels. OCR charge £59.80 for a “review of marking” for A-levels, rising to £71.95 if you want to see your script.  Most boards waive the fees if the grade is changed as a result of the remark.Mr Fenton, who is headmaster at the £19,350-a-year Reigate Grammar school, told The Daily Telegraph: “It doesn’t seem fair that children who come from wealthier backgrounds, where their parents have the funds and wherewithal to explore and pay for remarks, are more likely to get justice than families who can’t afford it.”He said that Ofqual should remove the cost barrier altogether and make all appeals and requests for remarks free.  Three years ago, the exams watchdog tightened up the rules surrounding appeals in an attempt to discourage such large numbers of students seeking remarks.Ofqual said it was not fair that some students were getting a “second bite of the cherry” as it felt too many students had been getting extra marks, and possibly a higher grade when in fact the original mark was “perfectly appropriate”.In 2016, examiners are being told to only change a mark if there is a clear “marking error” rather than simply a difference of interpretation. It was felt that this would likely lead to fewer successful challenges.Mr Fenton added: “Ofqual made it a lot harder to have a mark change. They had identified the right problem but this is the wrong answer.“I would rather increase access to justice, than say ‘because not everyone can have it, we will stop anyone from having it’.”

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