The Appeals Process 

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

All students have the opportunity to appeal their grade if they meet the eligibility criteria (see below).  Centres submit appeals requested by students.

It is important to note that an appeal may result in a grade being lowered, staying the same, or going up. Therefore, if a student puts in an appeal and their grade is lowered, they will receive the lower mark.

There is also the option to resit GCSEs, A levels and some AS levels in the autumn, which may be preferable to some students. The design, content and assessment of these papers will be the same as in a normal year.

What are the grounds for appeal?

There are five main grounds for appeal, as dictated by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), who oversee qualifications in England. 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 haven’t properly followed our own process, as approved by the exam board. An example of this would be where you’ve been told you should have received extra time for assessments but this wasn’t given in a certain subject.
  • You think the academic judgement on the selection of evidence was unreasonable: you think the evidence used to grade you was not reasonable.
  • You think the academic judgement on the grade you were given was unreasonable.

 You can find a copy of our centre policy which has been reviewed and confirmed as appropriate by the exam boards here:

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.

Because of the flexibility of the approach this year, every school and college will have used different forms of evidence. This means that just because other forms of evidence may have been valid, the selection of evidence used by the school is not unreasonable.

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.

The stages of appeal

There are two stages; stage 1 centre review and stage 2 awarding organisation (exam board) appeal.

All appeals will first go through a Centre Review process (stage 1). The candidate can ask the Centre, following the Centre Review, to progress the appeal to the Awarding Organisation (exam board) appeal (stage 2).

Stage 1: The Centre Review. This part of the process is undertaken by the Centre and can consist of 2 aspects:

    • Check for administrative errors (e.g. mis-transposing grades from one spreadsheet to another)
    • Check that the Centre followed its procedures properly and consistently

Stage 2: Awarding Organisation appeal. Candidates can appeal to awarding organisations if they feel the Centre Review did not properly resolve concerns about administrative or procedural errors. They can also appeal on the basis of academic judgement. This means there are three main grounds for appeal at stage 2:

    • the centre did not follow its procedure properly or consistently in arriving at the result, or during the centre review.
    • the awarding organisation made an administrative error in relation to the result.
    • the centre made an unreasonable exercise of academic judgement in the choice of evidence from which to determine the grade and/or the determination of that grade from the evidence.

Timelines – dictated by JCQ (exam board regulator)

KS5 – results Tuesday 10th August 2021

KS4 – results Thursday 12th August 2021

Priority students

Priority students should request Centre Reviews (stage 1) by 3pm on Thursday 12th August 2021.

Priority students should request awarding organisations appeals (stage 2) by 3pm on 16th August 2021.

Non-priority students

Non-priority students should request Centre Reviews (stage 1) by 3rd September 2021.

Non-priority students should request awarding organisations appeals (stage 2) by 10th September 2021.

What is a priority student?

According to JCQ, the exam board regulator, “A priority appeal is only for students applying to higher education who did not attain their firm choice (i.e. the offer they accepted as their first choice) and wish to appeal an A level or other Level 3 qualification result. You should inform your intended higher education provider that you have requested a centre review or appeal.”

If you decided not to confirm a firm conditional offer and to go through clearing instead, JCQ cannot offer you a priority appeal.

Universities have no obligation to hold places pending reviews so it is important that you speak to your higher education provider.

JCQ cannot offer priority appeals for GCSE students, unfortunately.

Outcomes of stage 1 review

If the stage 1 appeal is upheld, this will be reported to the exam board and the grade changed accordingly. 

If the stage 1 appeal is not upheld, this will be reported to the candidate.  The candidate may then choose to make a stage 2 appeal.

Outcomes of stage 2 review

When an application for a stage 2 appeal is submitted, the awarding organisation will decide whether it will be accepted for evaluation or not. The decision whether to accept the application for an appeal is based on:

a. whether the grounds of appeal are within the remit of the appeals process (where a rationale is required).

b. whether a centre review has been completed.

c. the timing of the application in relation to the published deadlines for submitting appeals d. whether the student has confirmed that they consent to their grade being raised, lowered or staying the same.

If an application for an appeal is not accepted, the reason(s) for this will be given by the exam board.

As a result of the appeal, the case will either be rejected (disallowed) or upheld (allowed) in whole or in part. The fact that an appeal has been upheld (allowed) will not necessarily result in a grade change for the student.

If the appeal application is upheld, the evidence will be reviewed and the awarding organisation will either:

  1. take no action if they agree that the procedures were followed, the evidence was appropriate and an appropriate judgement was taken.
  2. ask the centre to review the teacher assessed grade.
  3. the awarding organisation may amend the grade – the grade can be raised or lowered.

It is important to note that there is no grade security, the grade of a student who appeals could be raised or lowered as a result of the stage 2 appeal process.

How do I submit an appeal?

You must first submit a stage 1 appeal by completing this form ( linked below and emailing it to our dedicated email address by 3pm on the 12th August for priority appeals (students applying to higher education who did not attain their firm choice) or by the 3rd September for non-priority appeals.

The stage 1 appeal will take place and you will be informed of the outcome.

If, following the outcome of your stage 1 appeal you wish to make a stage 2 appeal, you should complete the stage 2 appeal form ( and email it to our dedicated email address  by 3pm on the 16th August for Priority appeals and the 10th September for non-priority appeals.

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