Belfast Telegraph

CCEA reopens deadline for students to appeal grades

By Linda Stewart

Exam body CCEA has re-opened the window for GCSE and AS-level students to have their English Literature exams re-marked - but worried parents are now highlighting what they maintain are discrepancies in other subject results.

The move came after concerns were raised about GCSE English Literature exam results after one parent told the BBC's Stephen Nolan radio show her daughter's grade rocketed from D to A after it was re-marked. Meanwhile, 676 pupils have asked for their AS-level English Literature papers to be re-marked.

Yesterday, head of CCEA Justin Edwards promised to reopen the window to appeal exam grades, allowing students until October 17 to submit appeals over their GCSE and AS-level English Literature results.

One parent contacted the Belfast Telegraph to say her daughter had also been affected by the unusual marking patterns.

"She is an A* student in most subjects, but got a C in English Lit. She couldn't understand what went wrong, and after much thought put in for a re-mark," she said.

"She went up to an A* - totally delighted but horrified. Unbelievable how they got it so wrong."

Another parent described how her son was awarded full marks for an English Literature paper in 2015 after doing little work.

"I feel that the marking system has gone terribly wrong over the past few years," she said. "One of my sons sat his GCSEs in 2015 - he was a bright boy and very good at maths and sciences but had no aptitude or interest whatsoever in English or languages and wasn't expected to do well at them. In fact, he admitted to not even opening a book or doing any work at all for one of his English Literature papers.

"Needless to say, we were extremely shocked to find that his results for this paper showed full UMS (uniform mark scale) marks and pulled him up to an A grade overall. His other papers were B and Cs which were a far more accurate reflection of his ability - on a good day."

Speaking on the Nolan show, Mr Edwards said there was an "interpretive" element to judging English Literature papers, and marking can be subjective instead of a simple right or wrong.

He continued that, sometimes, pupils' handwriting could be a problem, and that CCEA was looking into introducing typewritten exam entries.

"It's important there are checks and balances. We will use cases like this to go back and train the examiners again," he stated.

Mr Edwards said he would not be reopening the appeal process for any other subject. He also highlighted the small number of results affected at this stage: "It's 12 out of 137,000 grades. It is the minority of cases - I don't dispute that we can do more."

However, among the concerned parents who contacted this newspaper, one said: "My son took his AS in maths in his first year at sixth form and got a result of U when he's always been an A student. We were shocked and it affected his confidence as he is very good in maths."

Another said her son had been sitting at an A grade throughout the year in GCSE Business Studies, and was shocked to get a C.

"His business studies teacher thought it was quite strange even at the time. But he wanted to get an A* so he said 'I will just resit it', so we didn't do anything. The resit isn't until next summer."

CCEA said consideration would be given to free re-marks for pupils who receive free school meals. A spokesperson said: "CCEA has been monitoring the grade amendments following the outcome of the Enquiry about Results process for summer 2017 examinations. At this time, CCEA is satisfied that the awarding process is robust.

"In response to the recent media coverage CCEA has extended the re-mark period for GCSE English Literature and AS English Literature (Revised Spec) until 17 October. Please contact your school if you wish to apply for a remark.

"CCEA will review enquiry about results fees for the next examination series. CCEA has not raised fees, nor does it plan to at present. CCEA fees are amongst the lowest of UK examination bodies. Fees are charged to schools and it is individual school policy as to whether these fees are charged to learners."

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