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Holmer Green Senior School

Holmer Green Senior School

Exams Appeals 2021

Dear Student/Parent  

I am writing to provide further information on the assessment and appeals processes this year for students in Year 11 & 13. In order to provide as much clarity as possible I have framed this information around frequently asked questions. 

Question 1 : How were my / my child’s grades arrived at this year? 

Grades this summer were based on assessed grades supported by the use of grade descriptors released by exam boards. These were submitted to the exam boards as a holistic assessment of students’ performance in a subject, following a rigorous process of assessment, moderation and quality assurance.  These grades were then approved by the relevant exam board, following external quality assurance checks. 

Question 2 : What do I do if I’m not happy with my / my child’s grade? 

All students have the opportunity to appeal their grade if they meet the eligibility criteria (see below). It is important to note that an appeal may result in a grade being lowered, staying the same, or going up. So, if a student puts in an appeal and their grade is lowered, they will receive the lower mark.  There is also the option to resit GCSEs, A levels and some AS levels in the autumn 2021 series, which may be preferrable to some students. It is likely that the design, content and assessment of these papers will be the same as in a more typical year. 

Question 3 : What are the grounds for appeal? 

There are five main grounds for appeal, as dictated by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). They are: 

  • You think we have made an administrative error: an example of this would be putting the wrong information into a spreadsheet. 

  • You think we have made a procedural error: this means we haven’t properly followed our own process, as approved by the exam board. An example of this would be where you’ve been told you should have a special consideration applied to all papers, but this wasn’t given in a certain subject and that has not been taken into consideration. 

  • You think the academic judgement on the selection of evidence was unreasonable: you think the evidence used to grade you was not reasonable. 

  • You think the academic judgement on the grade you were given was unreasonable. 

Question 4: What does ‘unreasonable’ mean? 

‘Unreasonable’ is a technical term in this context and means that no educational professional acting reasonably could have selected the same evidence or come up with the same grade.  This means that just because other forms of evidence may have been equally valid to use, the selection of evidence is not unreasonable. Because of the flexibility of the approach this year, every school and college will have used different forms of evidence.  It also means that the independent reviewers will not remark or grade students’ evidence. Instead, they will look to see whether any teacher acting reasonably could have arrived at the same grade. 

Question 5 : What will be the outcome of an appeal? 

At either stage of the appeals process (see ‘What are the two stages of an appeal?’ below), a student’s grade may go up, stay the same, or go down. When placing an appeal, the student will have to sign a declaration saying that they accept the fact that their grade may go down and they may get a lower grade than their original. 

Question 6 : What’s a priority appeal? 

Priority appeals will be handled more quickly than other appeals, where possible before UCAS’s advisory deadline of 8th  September.  Priority appeals are only open to A level students starting university this autumn, who have missed out on the conditions of their firm offer.  If you decided not to confirm a firm conditional offer and to go through clearing instead, JCQ cannot offer you a priority appeal.  JCQ do not offer priority appeals for GCSE students. When making a priority appeal, students will have to include their UCAS number so it can be confirmed that it is a genuine priority appeal. 

Question 7 :What should I do if I don’t get into my first choice of university? 

First, don’t panic. Speak to Mrs Golding, Assistant Headteacher & Head of Sixth Form about your options. You may wish to go through clearing or sit the autumn exams to try to improve your grade.  If you are going to appeal your grade, you must let your university know you are appealing. They will then let you know whether they will hold a place for you pending the outcome of an appeal (note that universities are not obliged to hold a place for you; this is at their discretion). 

Question 8 : Will a subject access request or a freedom of information act request speed the appeal process up?  

Our policies section of the Holmer Green Senior School website contains our GDPR subject access request policy.  A subject access request asks for all the available data about the student who is making the request.  The request must come from the student themselves, if they are over 15 years of age.  There will be lots of irrelevant information such a request will have to identify that will have no bearing on the grading process but protracts the subject access request.  Students have already been sent all the data that has been used to produce their summer grades.   The school has one month within which to respond to such a request and this will therefore have no benefit to priority appeals.  Exam papers are exempt from having to be shared under the Data Protection Act 2018, schedule 11. 

Question 9 : What should I do before appealing? 

Students must read the JCQ Student and Parent guide before appealing.  We may not be able to offer as much advice and guidance on the likely success of an appeal this summer as we would in normal years, as we have already moderated, and quality assured all the grades ourselves. 

Question 10 : What are the two stages of an appeal? 

All appeals, on any of the grounds above, must first go through a centre review by completing the JCQ form (attached to this email) Stage 1. At this stage, we will check for any administrative errors, and check that our policies and procedures were followed correctly. Our policy has already been approved by the exam boards, so we are only ensuring that we followed this properly.  The outcome of the centre review will be communicated to students when made.  At the centre review stage, if we find that a grade should go up or down, we will ask the exam board to change it. They will then consider this request.    

Following the outcome of a centre review, students may still choose to pursue an awarding organisation appeal. They must fill in Stage 2 of the JCQ form, send it to the school and we will then send on their behalf to the exam boards. Students and parents cannot send appeals directly to the exam board themselves – it must come from us.  The outcome of the awarding organisation appeal will be communicated to students when made. 

Question 11 : How do I make an appeal? 

Following results days, students should fill in the first section of the JCQ form and send it to examappeals@holmer.org.uk. This email must come from the student’s HGSS account or include the student’s scanned signature. Please include the student's name in the title and either priority appeal or non-priority appeal, for example: 

 

Question 12 : What are the deadlines for priority appeals? 

The deadline for requesting a priority appeal is 10:00am Thursday 12th August (students cannot appeal before results day on 10th August). 

We will attempt to complete the centre review by 4:00pm Friday 13th August*. If students wish to progress this to an awarding organisation appeal, they must send the completed form to us by 10:00am Tuesday 17th August for priority appeals. 

*At both stages of the appeals process, there may be the need for specialist, expert knowledge (e.g. subject teachers, SEND knowledge). This may not be possible in August. In such cases, we may have to wait until the start of term, but priority appeals will still be treated as a priority.  

Question 13 : What are the deadlines for non-priority appeals? 

Non-priority appeals are any A levels, GCSEs or vocational qualifications, where a firm university place is not pending.  The deadline for submitting a centre review is 31st August; and the deadline for submitting an awarding organisation appeal is 17th September.  Appeals received after these dates may still be considered. 

Question 14 : You know my/ my child’s grades. Why can’t you tell us? What if you know we haven’t met our university conditional offer? 

We are forbidden from disclosing the Teacher Assessed Grades to any third party, including students and parents, until results days. Any teacher or member of staff who does this is committing exam malpractice.  Although students may have been given marks or grades on single pieces of evidence, we cannot disclose the final submitted assessed grade.  We only know what a student’s conditional offer is if they have chosen to share that information with us. It has not formed part of our objective grading of students. Where we do know this information, we must not let students know their submitted information, whether they have, or have not met the conditions of their offer. 

I hope you have found this information useful, if you would like any further guidance please contact Ms Lary, Deputy Headteacher at larys@holmer.org.uk 

Kind regards 

Ms Lary 

Deputy Headteacher (Teaching & Learning)