Exam board moves to cut student appeals

The SQA hopes the move will cut the number of exam appeals

THE SCOTTISH exam watchdog is to charge schools for failed attempts to challenge pupils’ exam grades.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) says it hopes the move will cut down on time-wasting requests to reassess students’ work.

It says out of 64,309 appeals launched in 2011 only 31,627 were successful, costing the organisation £793,238.

The SQA also plans to kill off the current form of prelim exams, which allow pupils the experience of working under test conditions and give an indication of the grades they could receive.

The changes were welcomed by the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association, and Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said it would stop youngsters ‘coasting’ after getting good prelim results.

But the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) warned it would lead to deserving pupils losing out.

Two new appeals services will be introduced to coincide with the new National qualifications in 2013.

One will be the Exceptional Circumstances Consideration will allow candidates in schools and colleges to submit coursework as well as prelim results.

It is designed for candidates hit by circumstances like family bereavements or serious ill health.

The Post-Results Service will allow candidate’s exam work to be checked, though grades could be revised down as well as up.

The SQA said: “There will be no necessity for schools and colleges to develop material solely for the purpose of possible appeals, as is often the case currently.”

Janet Brown, SQA chief executive, said: “The new services will allow schools and colleges to concentrate on quality teaching and learning rather than having to focus on alternative evidence for potential appeals.”

It has not been revealed how much schools will have to pay for failed appeals under the Post Results Service.

Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association said: “It will cut down on frivolous appeals made in middle class schools because parents demand it even when evidence is not available.”

Eileen Prior, executive director of the SPTC, said: “Clearly the existing system has become something it was never intended to be, where we see youngsters coasting after a good prelim result because they know schools will automatically appeal if predicted grades have not been reached.”

But EIS General Secretary Ronnie Smith said: “It is important to remember that almost half of appeals lodged under the existing system result in improved grades being awarded.

“So there is a real fear that deserving pupils could lose out on appropriate grades under a more restrictive system.”