As students receive their A-Level and GCSE results on 10 August and 12 August 2021 respectively, as with previous years, there will be great relief and excitement on the part of some students and their parents, and disappointment for others.

This year’s results are based upon a Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG) which has been compiled by teachers using various evidence (e.g. coursework, formal assessments, in-class assessments, mock exams or homework). Each Centre or School had to ensure that the Head of Department and Headteacher sign-off on the TAG before they are finalised and awarded by the Exam Boards.

Grounds of Appeal

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) guidance specifies four grounds for an appeal:

  1. Administrative error by the school: e.g. the school submitted the wrong grade or used an incorrect assessment mark as evidence etc.
  2. Administrative error by exam board/awarding organisation: e.g. it incorrectly changed the grade during processing.
  3. Procedural failure: the school did not follow a procedure correctly e.g. issues with access arrangement, not taking into account special circumstances, reasonable adjustments and/or mitigating circumstances or not following its own Centre Policy (the policy each school must create and abide by in determining students’ grades).
  4. Unreasonable exercise of academic judgment – the school made an unreasonable exercise of academic judgment in:

i.  Selection of evidence: choosing the evidence to base the grade on; and/or in
ii.  Determining the grade (TAG) on the basis of that evidence.

The test of unreasonableness is a high one. A teacher’s judgement will only be considered unreasonable if no teacher acting reasonably could have reached the same judgement. For instance, a selection of evidence completely excludes one or more assessment objectives without justification or the student’s performance evidence clearly indicates a higher grade.

Last year, Barristers within the Education Law Team at No5 Barristers’ Chambers were at the forefront of representing parents and students in various successful appeals. In England last year, 80% of A-Level appeals were successful, and 92% of these successful appeals resulted in at least one grade being improved.

If you would like advice and/or guidance in appealing your GCSE or A-Level Results, please do not hesitate to contact us.