Message to all our Year 13 students regarding the collection of A level and vocational grades
I hope this message finds you safe and well. The vast majority of you will be looking forward to starting the next stages of your career and, whether this is employment, an apprenticeship or further study, I wish you every success for the future.
As you are all well aware, the A Level and vocational examinations did not take place this summer and, as a school, we were tasked with gathering evidence for awarding grades, which we completed in line with our published centre policy. The process itself was very rigorous and had to go through several stages of moderation in school, with final scrutiny provided by the exam boards.
This year, sixth form results day is Tuesday 10 August and we are very much looking forward to seeing you on this important day.
We do, however, have to ensure that the day is safe as well as enjoyable and meets any Covid restrictions which might be in place at the time. With this in mind, we have planned the following procedures very carefully and ask that everybody adheres to them on the day you collect your results:
- In order to collect your results, you should enter the sixth form building via the common room and follow the directions to the theatre.
- Once you have collected your results, you may open them in the theatre or exit via the main doors into the building
- I fully understand this is a time when many students will be delighted with the results they receive and emotions may be running high. Whilst you may wish to celebrate and discuss your results with your friends, I respectfully ask that you are mindful of any social distancing rules that are in place at the time.
The process for awarding grades this year is clearly very different to normal. Every year, there are a relatively small number of students across the country who are disappointed with their results and this year will be no different. An appeals process is available this year, with very clear eligibility criteria and a student and parent guide will be made available by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) at the end of this term. We will share this as soon as it is available but, in the meantime, have included a number of frequently asked questions at the bottom of this letter.
I am genuinely looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the day. Sixth form results day is always a lovely experience for me, witnessing the reactions on students’ faces when they receive their examination grades, often the reward for a tremendous amount of hard work.
Mark Jackson, Headteacher
Appeals Process FAQs
How will my / my child’s grades be arrived at this year?
Grades this summer are based on Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs). TAGs have been submitted to the exam boards by us as a holistic assessment of students’ performance in a subject, following a rigorous process of assessment, moderation and quality assurance.
These grades will then be approved by the relevant exam board, following external quality assurance checks.
In some cases, the TAGs we submitted may be reviewed by the exam board, who may ask us to submit an alternative grade. However, any changes to the grades we submitted will be done by professional teachers or reviewers and no grades will be changed as a result of an algorithm.
What do I do if I’m not happy with my / my child’s grade?
All students will 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 will also be the option to re-sit GCSEs and A levels in the autumn, which may be preferable to some students. The design, content and assessment of these papers will be the same as in a normal year.
What are the grounds for appeal?
There are four 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 received extra time for assessments but this wasn’t given in a certain subject.
- 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.
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.
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 placing an appeal, the student will have to sign a declaration saying that they accept the fact their grade may go down and they may get a lower grade than their original TAG.
What’s a priority appeal?
Priory appeals are only open to A level students starting university this autumn, who have missed out on the conditions of their firm or insurance offer.
JCQ cannot offer priority appeals for GCSE results, unfortunately.
Priority appeals will be handled more quickly than other appeals, where possible before UCAS’s advisory deadline of 8 September.
If you decided not to confirm a firm conditional offer and to go through clearing instead, JCQ cannot offer you a priority appeal.
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.
What should I do if I don’t get into my first choice of university?
First, don’t panic. Speak to us about your options. You may wish to go through clearing, or sit the autumn exams or summer exams next year 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).
What should I do before I appeal?
Students must read the JCQ student and parent guide before appealing, which will be available on the JCQ website by results days.
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.
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, 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 the JCQ form (a link can be found here), which 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.
How do I make an appeal?
Following results days, students should fill in the JCQ form (referenced above) completing section 1 and/or section 2 as appropriate and send it to Mr Goodman at email@example.com .
What are the deadlines for priority appeals?
The deadline for requesting a priority appeal is 12 noon on 16 August.
We will attempt to complete the centre review by 20 August* to allow time for students to progress this to an awarding organisation appeal if they wish to do so. If any student wishes to progress their appeal to the awarding organisation, this must be submitted to school by 12.00 noon on Monday 23 August in order for us to meet the exam board deadline.
*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, however, we will endeavour to carry out the process as soon as possible.
What are the deadlines for non-priority appeals?
Non-priority appeals are any A levels, GCSEs or vocational qualifications, where a firm or insurance university place is not pending.
The deadline for submitting a centre review is 3 September; the deadline for submitting an awarding organisation appeal is 10 September.
Appeals received after these dates may still be considered.
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 TAG.
During the external quality assurance process taking place in June or July, our submitted TAGs may be moved up or down (although this will always be done through human agency, not by an algorithm).
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 TAGs, even if they haven’t met the conditions of their offer.