Independent and grant-maintained schools dominate appeals over exam results, it emerged this week.
Dame Elizabeth Anson, chair of the Independent Appeals Authority for School Examinations, revealed that more than half of the appeals in 1994 were made by public and opted-out schools.
She said she was concerned about the trend which she blamed on the fact that independent schools tended to be better organised, had more secretarial back-up and came under greater parental pressure to complain about exam grades.
"It's hard work to push through an appeal and it tends to be schools with good secretarial systems that do so. Many independent schools are better organised and are able to put some money into their appeals. It's the maintained schools where letters tend to have been lost or where there have been delays because they didn't fully understand what to do," she said.
Although the number of enquiries to the authority in 1994-95 was the same as in previous years, the number of appeals heard increased from five in 1993-94 to 12 this year, said Dame Elizabeth at the launch of the IAASE's annual report in London. Of the 12 appeals, six were from independent schools and two were from the GM sector.
Dame Elizabeth said the rise showed there was a need for an independent organisation to consider complaints which the examining bodies had failed to resolve.
The IAASE, set up in 1990, has no power to re-mark or re-grade candidates' work but is required to concentrate on the examining bodies' procedures. Appeals to the authority may be lodged only by the exam centre (except in the case of private candidates) and only after the examining body's inquiry and appeal procedures have been exhausted.
Dame Elizabeth said most schools were now aware of the existence of the IAASE, which also advises exam centres and especially parents and candidates on what they can do. But she said there were still unacceptable delays occurring in appeals.