Qualifications Wales statement on appeals process

Following the Minister for Education’s announcement on Monday, 17 August, and subsequent Direction that GCSE, AS, A level and Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate qualifications will now be awarded on the basis of centre assessment grades, we can confirm the new appeals process for the summer 2020 examination series.

As a result of this change in approach to awarding qualifications, learners in Wales will now receive the higher of the centre assessment grade and calculated grade for GCSE, AS level and Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate qualifications. For A levels, learners will receive the higher of their AS level grade, centre assessment grade and calculated grade. It is in this context that the new appeals process is published.

 Grounds for Appeal

 We can confirm that the grounds for appeal, to be submitted by a school or college on behalf of a learner, are as follows: 

  1. The Head of Centre believes an administrative or procedural error was made in submitting the centre assessment data to WJEC.
  2. The Head of Centre believes that WJEC introduced an error into the centre assessment data submitted to it.
  3. The Head of Centre believes that a result issued by WJEC was incorrectly allocated and / or communicated to a learner.
  4. That there was some other procedural failing on the part of WJEC. 

For those learners who receive a calculated grade due to that being the highest of the grades available to them, the original grounds for appeal shall remain in place.

A learner cannot appeal because they disagree with their school’s or college’s professional judgement of the grade the learner would most likely have achieved if exams had taken place.

Centre errors

A school or college that has evidence it made a mistake (for example an exceptional clerical error or a failure to take into account important information about a learner’s likely performance that should have been and was taken into account for other learners) when submitting its assessment of a learner’s likely grade can take that evidence to WJEC. WJEC will need to understand how the school or college made a mistake that resulted in the head of centre making a false declaration.

If WJEC is satisfied that the evidence shows the school or college made a mistake and that the school or college should therefore have submitted a different centre assessment grade, it can change the grade awarded.

The position remains that neither a learner nor a school or college may advance an appeal to WJEC on the basis that the school or college has since changed its professional judgement. However, if a school or college now believes a centre assessment grade reflects an error in the way that the professional judgement was reached, it could raise this with WJEC.

A school or college could not raise such a concern on the basis that another institution took a different approach to determining centre assessment grades or that different teachers could have come to a different judgement, or because the national process of standardisation did not operate as expected. The school or college would need to provide evidence of the original approach that it took and show why this was not appropriate, given the published guidance Information to Centres on the submission of Centre Assessment Grades.

WJEC would need to be satisfied that the approach taken by the school or college was inappropriate, not that a different judgement about a centre assessment grade could have been reached, to consider an appeal on the basis that the original judgement was flawed.

In such cases, WJEC will take into account the nature of the school’s or college’s mistake and how it came about when deciding whether it should take any follow up action against the school or college. Given the care with which schools and colleges determined centre assessment grades and the process of internal assurance prior to the Head of Centre Declaration, we expect that it would be very unusual for them to identify such issues with centre assessment grades.

A school or college that took into account the distribution of centre assessment grades compared with grades achieved by the centre’s learners in previous years will have acted within the guidance. The taking into account of such information is not, therefore, an error.   

Concerns of bias or discrimination

Where learners have genuine concerns that their centre has exhibited bias or discrimination of one form or another, the learner should raise the matter with their centre.

In the first instance, learners should ask their centre to check if they made an error. If the grade was submitted correctly, they may wish to make a complaint that would need to be investigated by the centre itself. Guidance on School Complaints Procedures is available from Welsh Government.

In cases where that may not be appropriate, they could also pass such evidence on to WJEC who may then decide to investigate the matter as alleged malpractice by the centre. Where such a complaint is upheld following an investigation, WJEC may correct results. It is important to note that the burden of proof will lie with the complainant, and any such complaints would need to be accompanied with substantial evidence to support the case. Given the severity of such allegations, we anticipate that such cases will arise only exceptionally.

We have produced a guide that explains the appeals process, and what a learner should do if they have concerns of bias or discrimination. This can be found on our website.

Learners may also wish to raise such concerns with the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Further detail around the changes made to our Extraordinary Regulatory Framework: General Qualifications – Conditions and Requirements, and special conditions of recognition issued to WJEC can be found on our website.