Revealed: The most complained about exam boards

The overall number of complaints has more than doubled in two years, according to Ofqual

Julia Belgutay

The number of complaints to Ofqual has risen in the last two years

The number of complaints about exam boards received by Ofqual has more than doubled in two years, new figures have revealed. While 124 complaints about awarding organisations were taken to the watchdog in 2016-17, that number rose to 177 in 2017-18 and 263 in 2018-19, according to data published by Ofqual in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Of those complaints, however, only 17 were upheld or partly upheld, according to the data – fewer than last year.

The awarding organisation complained about the most was AQA, at 71 – that had almost twice as many complaints received by Ofqual than any other awarding organisation (AO). Four complaints were upheld or partly upheld.

Background: Exam prices rise for the third time in three years

Analysis: Are the GCSEs a reliable measure of education?

More news: Pass marks could drop in reformed functional skills

Exam concerns

Over 3 million certificates were issued by AQA in 2018-19 – more than by any other AO that year. It was followed by Pearson, which issued 2.4 million certificates and had 39 complaints made against it – of which two were at least partly upheld, and OCR, for which 33 complaints were made to Ofqual – two of which were upheld. 

Charlie Hardie, AQA’s head of customer services, said: “Our figures reflect the fact that we’re the UK’s biggest exam board, with a big rise in the number of schools choosing us for GCSEs over the last few years. We take all complaints seriously and help Ofqual investigate ones they receive – and we’re pleased that the number they’ve upheld is consistently very small by any standards.”

A Pearson spokesperson said: "We take all complaints made against us very seriously. In 2018 a very small number of complaints were made against Pearson – equating to roughly 0.002 per cent of total certificates issued in 2018."

Total complaints received by Ofqual

The number of complaints received about each awarding organisation

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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