More grade queries likely on results day, say heads

It could be 'doubly fraught' when GCSE grades are released this year, says the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has warned

Catherine Lough

results day

More pupils could query their grades this year on a results day that is likely to be "doubly fraught", according to headteachers.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told Tes that on this year's GCSE and A-level results day, "the potential for children querying grades to rise is there – it will be a more emotional results day this year".


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In an online message to ASCL members, he said results day could be more emotional than usual when pupils queried their grades.

"We know those are days of high emotion at the best of times but of course what is going to happen this year is a child is going to get their overall grade – their grade 4 at GCSE or their grade B at A level or whatever it might be, and that will not be the end of the story," he said. 

"So this year of all years there is going to be a kind of high stakes feel to the results day, particularly so, because the results will have been arrived at by centre-assessed grading," he said.

"And we’ve been talking all the time about protecting teachers in this to remind parents and members of the community and the media that this is not your history teacher sticking her finger in the air and saying ‘I think she’s worth a grade 5’, this is a moderated process which then will go to statistical checks and balances by awarding organisations and by Ofqual."

Mr Barton said parents would be able to ask for their child's teacher-assessed grade through subject access requests, and that there needed to be a debate on when and how this information was released. While he said pupils would not be privy to their position in the rank order, as this would reveal information about other children, he said they would be able to ask for the grade their school had sent to exam boards.

"That means results days are going to be doubly fraught potentially because you will be dealing not just with the child who thinks their grade was disappointing but then is going to say ‘what do you think?’ there, and I think we need some protocols around that," he said.

Speaking to Tes, Mr Barton added that Ofqual would need to do some "heavy lifting" around moderation as he thought the proportion of grade 1s awarded by teachers would be higher than last year. 

He said teachers would find it very difficult to award a child an assessed grade of a U after 12 years of education, and that there needed to be a "kind of generosity" regarding the process. 

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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