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FAQ

 

Summer Exams 2021 - Frequently Asked Questions

 

How were grades determined this year?

This summer, Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) were submitted to the exam boards by the college 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 boards, following external quality assurance checks.

 

 

What do I do if I’m not happy with a grade?

Students will be able to sit GCSE examinations in the autumn if they are unhappy with their grades.  The design, content and assessment of the ‘resit’ papers will be the same as in a normal year.  

To submit a request to sit an exam in the autumn, please complete this form: Exams re-sit form 2021 and send it to examappeals@thespirescollege.com or hand in a printed copy to the Exams Office (Room 1509).

Students are also able to formally appeal any grade this summer.  It is important to note that an appeal may result in a grade being lowered, staying the same, or going up. When placing an appeal, the student will have to sign a declaration saying that they accept that their grade may go down and they may get a lower grade than their original TAG.

For guidance regarding how to make an appeal, see below.

 

 

What does ‘Quality Assurance’ mean?

This term refers to the checking that took place to ensure that every grade is the most appropriate fit.  This was done at individual teacher level, then at department level, then by senior leaders, before the grades were submitted to exam boards. 

Quality assurance also took place once TAGs were submitted to the awarding organisations.  Samples were requested from schools and colleges in order to ensure that the level of grading, as well as the process of selecting evidence, was consistent, fair and justifiable against previous outcomes of that particular school or college and in comparison to other educational settings throughout the country. 

 

 

What are the grounds for appeal?

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

  • A student believes that the College has made an administrative error.  An example of this would be putting the wrong information into a spreadsheet.
  • A student believes that the College has made a procedural error; this means the college has not properly followed its own process, as approved by the exam board. An example of this would be a student being told they will receive extra time for assessments and then not being given this.  
  • A student believes that the academic judgement regarding the selection of evidence was unreasonable, which means that the evidence used to determine a grade was not a fair and suitable choice.
  • A student believes that the academic judgement regarding the grade given was unreasonable, which means that they believe the work was of a better or worse quality than the grade given suggests.

 

What does ‘unreasonable’ mean in the context of Exam Appeals?

In the context of exam grade appeals, ‘unreasonable’ means that any other education professional would disagree with the College’s judgement. 

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.

 

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 stay, or go down.  When submitting an appeal the student will have to sign a declaration confirming they accept the grade may go down and they may get a lower grade than their original TAG.

 

What is a priority appeal?

Priority appeals are only available to students starting university this autumn who have not met the conditions of their offer. Priority appeals are not available for GCSE results.

Priority appeals will be handled more quickly than other appeals, where possible before UCAS’s advisory deadline of 8 September 2021.

Students who decided not to confirm a firm conditional offer and to go through clearing instead cannot be offered a priority appeal.

When making a priority appeal, students must include their UCAS number so that eligibility for a priority appeal can be confirmed.

 

What happens if a student is unable to collect their results on results day?

Students can:

  • appoint someone to collect their results.  This person must present a letter from the student authorising the College to release the results to them, along with valid photographic ID of the person collecting the results.

OR

  • provide the Exams Office with a stamped, self- addressed envelope so that the results can be posted on results day.

The college will receive formal exam certificates in November 2021 and you will be informed by letter when they are ready to collect.

 

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

Don’t panic.  There are options available, such as clearing, or sitting the autumn or summer exams next year to try to improve your grades.

Please contact Mr Davies for more information, advice and guidance.

Students who are going to appeal their grades must let their intended university know about this.  Universities will advise students whether their place will be held pending the outcome of an appeal (please note that universities are not obliged to hold places; this is done at their discretion).

 

What should I do before appealing?

Students must read the Ofqual Student Guide to Awarding Grades, the JCQ Student and Parent Guide and the Centre Policy before appealing, which are available in the Key Documents section of the college website and on the JCQ website.

 

What are the two stages of an appeal?

All appeals, on any of the grounds above, must first go through a centre review.  At this stage, the College will check for any administrative errors and check that policies and procedures were followed correctly.  The College Exams Policy has been approved by the exam boards, so this check does not refer to the content of the policy itself, but that it has been followed correctly.

The outcome of the centre review will be communicated to students within 3 to 5 working days.

If the College finds that a grade should change at this stage, the exam board will be asked to consider a request to change it.

Following an unsuccessful outcome of a centre review, students may choose to pursue an awarding organisation appeal.  Students and parents/carers cannot send appeals directly to the exam boards: appeals are forwarded by the College on behalf of the appellant.

 

How do I make an appeal?

We recommend that students initially discuss their outcomes with senior staff on results days.  If they wish to make an appeal, students should fill in the form that is available here: JCQ - Stage 1 Appeal Form and send it to the following email address: examsappeals@thespirescollege.com

 

What are the deadlines for priority appeals?

Priority appeals are only open to students starting university this autumn, as explained above.

The deadline for requesting a priority appeal is 16 August (students cannot appeal before results day on 10 August).

The college will aim to complete the centre review by 17 August*.  If students wish to progress to an awarding organisation appeal, they must send the completed second section of the JCQ form to the college by 19 August for priority appeals.  The form is available here: JCQ - Stage 2 Appeal Form and on the exam appeals page of the college website: https://www.thespirescollege.com/exams-2021/appeals-process

*At both stages of the appeals process, there may be the need for specialist, expert knowledge (e.g. from subject teachers or SEND professionals) and this may not be immediately available. 

 

What are the deadlines for non-priority appeals?

Non-priority appeals are for any qualifications upon which a university place is not dependent.

The deadline for submitting a centre review is 3 September 2021 and the deadline for submitting an awarding organisation appeal is 10 September 2021.

 

You know my grades / my child’s grades.  Why can’t you tell us? What if you know I haven’t met my university conditional offer?

Schools and colleges are forbidden from disclosing final grades to any third party, including students and parents, until official results days.  To do so would be exam malpractice. 

 

Can I appeal against the decision of the awarding organisation?

If you believe that the awarding organisation has made a procedural error in how it has handled your appeal, you may request a review from the Ofqual’s Exam Procedures Review Service (EPRS).  You can:

  • Send an email to eprs@ofqual.gov.uk
  • Phone Ofqual on 0300 303 3344 (you may be charged for this call.  Please check with your provider.)
  • Put your request in writing to:

Ofqual
Earlsdon Park
53-55 Butts Road
Coventry
CV1 3BH

 


Links to forms: