Fewer Sats appeals granted - it's official

13th November 2009 at 00:00
Heads' fears confirmed as just 0.39% of tests have grades changed despite 50,000 returned scripts

Officials have admitted that fewer appeals against Sats marking were granted this year than last year, sparking anger among primary heads.

Schools made more than 50,000 appeals against marks awarded in the key stage 2 tests this summer - 3,000 more than last year, when delays shook confidence in the system.

The 50,257 scripts represent 3 per cent of the total marked. But only 6,532 test scripts received a new grade - just 0.39 per cent of the total number of test scripts marked.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) said the the percentage change was due to the change in the review process.

However, this year hundreds of headteachers have complained that the number of appeals granted was much lower than they had expected.

Stuart Pywell, head of St Stephen's Junior in Canterbury, asked for 14 writing papers to be reviewed. Just one mark was changed on a single paper paper.

Several heads, such as Adrian Hayes, of Our Lady Immaculate RC Primary in Chelmsford, Essex, said there was no sign that returned papers had even been looked at.

Matt Rampton, head of Pickhurst Junior in Bromley, Kent, sent 124 writing papers for remarking. No marks were changed.

He said: "It seems like a token gesture . That's worse than not having a review because it gives you a sense of hope that there will be justice if you play it by the book.

"Five members of staff took three days off to go through these papers. We really did our homework properly. They just said they were marked within the margins of error."

The QCDA has said that in the case of group reviews, a sample of papers is taken and if the marking on those papers is not considered sufficiently poor to warrant a change in grade level the rest of the papers are not remarked.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said he would be raising the matter at a forthcoming meeting with Ofqual.

He added: "I am outraged. I want to know if papers have been taken seriously by the markers.

"If members of staff have gone through every single paper because they are not assured by the quality of marking, it is incumbent on those receiving them to make sure that each of those papers is considered."

Schools are charged for each paper in which a level is not changed as a result of appeal.

Mr Brookes said: "If I was a head, I would be very tempted to get an independent review of marking, which would show that the quality of that service is lacking . People have every ground to challenge any required payment if that service is shown to be shoddy, just as they would in other walks of life."

Mick Walker, director of education for the QCDA, said the way the reviews process was carried out had been changed this year, making year-on-year comparisons invalid.

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