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Exam Appeals

Published on 25th June 2021

Dear parents and carers,

I hope that you and your family are well. I am writing to inform you about the teacher assessed grades and the associated right of appeal.

In February 2021 a consultation document was published followed by two guidance documents in March and latterly June. At Fernwood we have followed all guidance as instructed.

How were my child’s grades arrived at this year?

Grades this summer are based on Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs). TAGs were submitted to the exam boards by us as a holistic assessment of students’ performance in a subject, following a rigorous process of assessment, moderation and quality assurance. These grades will now be scrutinised by the relevant exam board, following external quality assurance checks.

What do I do if I’m not happy with my child’s grade?

All students have the opportunity to appeal their grade if they meet the eligibility criteria (see below). It is important to note that an appeal may result in a grade being lowered, staying the same, or going up. So, if a student puts in an appeal and their grade is lowered, they will receive the lower grade.

Please note: The Appeal decision is determined by the Exam Board and not the school.

What are the grounds for appeal?

As dictated by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) they are:

  • You think we have made an administrative error: an example of this would be putting the wrong information into a spreadsheet
  • You think we have made a procedural error: this means we have not properly followed our own process, as approved by the exam board
  • You think the academic judgement on the selection of evidence or grade was unreasonable

What does ‘unreasonable’ mean?

‘Unreasonable’ is a technical term in this context and means that no educational professional acting reasonably could have selected the same evidence or come up with the same grade. This means that just because other forms of evidence may have been equally valid to use, the selection of evidence is not unreasonable. Because of the flexibility of the approach this year, every school and college will have used different forms of evidence.

It also means that the independent reviewers will not remark or grade students’ evidence. Instead, they will look to see whether any teacher acting reasonably could have arrived at the same grade. I am informed that the basis of a successful appeal on this count is improbable where a school has been thorough in its application of the guidance. I have every confidence that at Fernwood we have been incredibly thorough.

What will be the outcome of an appeal?

At either stage of the appeals process (see ‘What are the two stages of an appeal?’ below), a student’s grade may go up, stay the stay, or go down. When placing an appeal, the student will have to sign a declaration saying that they accept the fact their grade may go down and they may get a lower grade than their original TAG.

Priority Appeals only refer to A level qualifications not GCSE or equivalents.

What should I do before appealing?

Students must read the JCQ Student and Parent Guide before appealing, which will be available on the JCQ website by results days. We will not be able to offer as much advice and guidance on the likely success of an appeal this summer as we would in normal years, as we have already moderated and quality assured all the grades ourselves.

What are the two stages of an appeal?

All appeals, on any of the grounds above, must first go through a centre review. At this stage, we will check for any administrative errors, and check that our policies and procedures were followed correctly. Our policy has already been approved by the exam boards, so we are only ensuring that we followed this properly.

The outcome of the centre review will be communicated to students when made. At the centre review stage, if we find that a grade should go up or down, we will ask the exam board to change it. They will then consider this request.

Following the outcome of a centre review, students may still choose to pursue an awarding organisation appeal. They must fill in the form below, which we will then send on their behalf to the exam boards. Students and parents cannot send appeals directly to the exam board themselves – it must come from us. The outcome of the awarding organisation appeal will be communicated to students when made.

How do I make an appeal? Following results days, students should fill in the first section of the JCQ form here and send it to

The deadline for submitting a centre review is 3 September; and the deadline for submitting an awarding organisation appeal is 10 September. At Fernwood any appeal will not be sent until 3rd of September at the earliest as we are not an A level priority school.

In summary, I am confident that the systems and processes that are in place at Fernwood have the appropriate rigour and have been applied ethically. I hope that provides some reassurance. Faculty Leaders and teaching staff have applied the guidance to the letter. Senior leaders have all been involved in overseeing the process.

I know that you appreciate that staff work hard to maintain positive relationships with students and parents alike. This process has added a huge volume of work onto teaching colleagues and of course a considerable amount of emotional investment.

If your son or daughter does not achieve the grades they desire, there is of course an Autumn series of exams just as there was last year. As soon as we are aware of the dates we will inform you. I hope this letter does not cause undue distress, but I wish to be transparent.

Kind regards

Paul Burke

Head Teacher – Mr P Burke
The Fernwood School, Goodwood Road, Wollaton, Nottingham, NG8 2FT
0115 9286 326 |
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