Appeals against re-grades double

Complaints from schools and colleges about re-graded exams doubled last year. The figures are revealed today in the annual report of the Examinations Appeal Board, which hears cases from schools where candidates have disputed grades.

The board heard 14 appeals about A-levels, GCSEs and vocational exams taken in 2005 or January 2006, compared with six the previous year. Five appeals were upheld.

Successful appeals included one by Cardinal Newman college in Preston, which led AQA to re-mark 25 of its A- and AS-level dance candidates.

The appeal board heard that a new examiner had assessed 100 dance performances in three days which it said "might have been too excessive".

It urged exam boards to make sure examiners' workloads were manageable.

AQA also had to re-mark GCSE French papers from Rugby, the pound;22,000-a-year private school where teachers made a mistake over coursework requirements. The school argued that the requirements were unclear and said AQA had been lenient with other schools that had made similar mistakes in the past. The board agreed with the school. The re-marking led to nine pupils having their grades changed.

Sarah Fletcher, deputy principal of Rugby, said: "I felt the whole procedure was very professionally conducted. I felt the board was very willing to support the pupils."

The school still uses AQA. Other schools at which re-marking took place included Maryhill school, whose GCSE English papers were marked for a third time by OCR, resulting in one pupil getting a higher grade. The school complained after pupils sitting the higher tier of the exam were outperformed by those who had sat the lower tier. Appeals to the EAB are free to schools. Visit www.theeab.org.uk

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