GCSEs 2021: Heads call for DfE to top up exam rebates

Heads' confidence in exam boards has been 'dented' by 'muddled' rebate process

Catherine Lough

Coronavirus: Will schools get money back after GCSEs and A levels were cancelled?

Heads have called on the government to ensure all schools receive a 50 per cent rebate on their exam fees this year after another major exam board confirmed it would pay back part of the fees.

Today, Pearson Edexcel said it would pay back 33 per cent of its fees - amounting to £31 million.

It comes after AQA announced it would award a 26 per cent fee rebate equivalent to £45 million and WJEC Eduqas has offered a 42 per cent rebate.

Breaking: Pearson Edexcel confirm £31m exam fee rebate

GCSEs 2021: AQA 26% exam fee rebate 'unacceptable'

Related: OCR 42% exam fee rebate 'big improvement', say heads

Poll: Most headteachers want 75 per cent exam fee rebate

OCR announced a 42 per cent rebate equal to £18.4 million to be returned to schools last week.

But headteachers have said that the current rebate system is in a "muddle" and that exam boards should be offering at least 50 per cent of the fees back to schools.

Tom Middlehurst, curriculum and inspection specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “While this announcement from Pearson Edexcel is welcomed, with all four awarding organisations having now declared their rebates we have a muddled picture that does not look fair to schools and colleges.

“Depending on which board schools and colleges have chosen to use they could receive anything from 42 per cent from OCR or WJEC Eduqas, 33 per cent from Pearson Edexcel to 26 per cent from AQA.

"You do not need to be a mathematician to work out that some schools and colleges will be significantly worse off through no fault of their own and having done just as much work. This seems deeply unjust given all the work teachers and leaders have had to do that should normally be the job of exam boards."

"The government now needs to step up to the plate and follow the example set by its Welsh counterpart in levelling up the discounts schools and colleges have received. Education leaders in Wales will receive an overall rebate of 50 per cent thanks to the Welsh government’s decision to top up the WJEC Eduqas offering. The same should now happen in England," he added.

ASCL has also called for a formal review from Ofqual into exam fees this summer.

Mr Middlehurst added: "Education leaders’ confidence in the awarding organisations will have been severely dented by this summer’s bruising process and an Ofqual-led review must address this as we move towards normal service being resumed following the pandemic.”



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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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