OCR reprimanded for letting exam markers check own work

GCSE and A-level exam papers were reviewed by original examiners in breach of Ofqual's regulations

Exam board AQA must pay out £1m in fines and compensation

Ofqual has ordered the OCR exam board to compensate schools after it allowed examiners to review their own marking.

The regulator has told OCR to compensate the centres concerned with credit notes worth over £14,600 after it admitted it had failed to ensure that reviews of marking for GCSE and A-level exams in 2017 and 2018 “were conducted only by persons with no prior involvement in marking the assessment under review”.


Related: AQA penalised £1m for letting markers check own work

News: OCR forced to pay £187K for GCSE exam blunder

Exam errors: Exam board's GCSE and A-level blunders


The failure affected 286 reviews of marking in total. Examiners initially marked papers – and then reviewed them – on a “whole script” basis, rather than at question or item level.

This meant that the board failed to comply with Ofqual’s regulations that marking reviews should only be conducted by “persons with no personal interest in the outcome of the review” and “conducted only by persons with no prior involvement” in marking before.

In a letter to the board, Sally Collier, Ofqual’s chief regulator, acknowledged these failures had been brought about through an unexpected shortfall in examiners.

OCR has been instructed to recompense centres for the fees they paid for the marking review – a sum of £14,674.25 in total.

“Ordinarily, this is a matter in which Ofqual would consider it appropriate to take regulatory action against OCR, in the form of a monetary penalty,” Ofqual's letter said.

“However, OCR has indicated its willingness to issue credit notes to all affected centres (including centres that would not have paid fees for reviews that resulted in a grade change) in acknowledgement of the fact that OCR did not meet their reasonable expectations.”

Ofqual's enforcement committee took into account the fact that OCR had made efforts to recruit and retain examiners, and that the incident had only affected a small number of learners.

Ofqual therefore decided it was unnecessary to impose a fine on the board, but publicly acknowledged OCR’s “non-compliance” to maintain public confidence in the exam system and deter exam boards from further breaches of the rules.

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