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GCSE - paying for remarks. You or school?

(41 Posts)
Astronotus Fri 28-Sep-18 12:31:03

How can it be fair that some parents are asked to pay for remarks and some aren't?

Parents don't pay for state school education and don't pay the entry fees to take the GCSEs so how can it be fair they have to pay for remarks, especially when the schools suggest them? We all know schools are struggling with barely any money, but how did we let the Department of Education force these hidden costs on parents?

OP’s posts: |
AlexanderHamilton Fri 28-Sep-18 12:34:39

At dd's school they paid for some remarks but not for others. Dd's teacher felt that one of her papers had been under-marked as well as being very close to the boundary so school paid for that but they also contacted parents whose dc were just a couple of marks away from a boundary and gave them the option to pay or not.

ThereIsIron Fri 28-Sep-18 12:41:04

At our school parents pay for remarks, and get the payment refunded if the mark goes up.

Astronotus Fri 28-Sep-18 13:23:07

Yes, if the exam mark changes the exam board will refund the cost. But if the mark remains unchanged, despite a remark suggested by the school, many parents are having to pay the cost.

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Fri 28-Sep-18 15:02:30

The other option isn’t generally that the school pays for them (they can’t afford it), but that the exam isn’t sent in for review and the student potentially misses out on a higher grade.

OutwiththeOutCrowd Fri 28-Sep-18 15:47:43

My DS's grade went up after a review of marking. It was Edexcel and his mark was on the printout he received so we were able to check online and see that he was just one mark below a grade boundary. The school wouldn't have done anything. It was our idea to apply for a review and we paid for it. Haven't heard anything from the school about being reimbursed.

ChocolateWombat Fri 28-Sep-18 19:32:36

Unless a school thinks there has been serious mis marking across the board for their students, and considers steps towards a full review (which will need some individual uogrades first) then it is very usual for parents to have to pay.

Schools pay for kids to enter the exams. It costs a lot and they are strapped for cash. Parents have to be responsible for funding re-marks as schools simply can't afford it - they will never tell a child they must get a remark, but they might advise it, but also have to point out the risk of being downgraded too, so in the end the parents have to take responsibility for the choice and the risk....schools won't out in for remarks without parental consent, partly because the risk of grades going down.

It is true that those with less money are disadvantaged here and might lose out on higher grades. In Independnet schools, parents after advice from staff, often request numerous remarks, and of course if you don't put in for one, you certainly aren't going to get upgraded. However, this alone doesn't mean schools should pay for all remarks - remarks are always, extra, optional expenses, not part of the general curriculum, so if you want these extras you have to pay, in the same way that if you want extras like violin lessons you have to pay....not an equal world, but how it is.

If exam marking were reliable, all of this wouldn't be an issue, but it is unreliable. What I would say, is that if the school has suggested they think a serious error in marking is likely, it's really worth finding the money to pay for a photocopy of the script - cheaper than a remark, and then teachers can look at it and decide if they think it really has been significantly meanly marked, and if they really think there is a strong chance (not just a hope that with a following wind a an extra mark might be found......marks are only changed now when the marking is wrong enough to be in the wrong band) then it's probably worth finding the money for it.

Yes, it would be good if you didn't have to pay as parents.....but here, it's a choice to either pay up and perhaps get your child a better grade, which might make a difference to their future - especially important if making the difference between a pass and not a pass, or not paying, through either principle or genuinely not being able to afford it or scrape that money together (a reality for some people). As parents we pay for all kinds of things for our kids, and even if we think the state should be funding it, if the school says they really think there's been a serious mis mark (and again, not just that they are chancing their arm) then I'd see this as just another expenditure needed by kids....and probably one of the more worthwhile ones.

ChocolateWombat Fri 28-Sep-18 19:34:41

And if your mark is changed, you will get the money back from the Board. Perhaps that helps make it a bit more palatable....you can always ask the school to get a photocopy first to check how serious they think the chances of upgrade are, and only go for it if they are very sure...even then, there is no certainty.

Astronotus Fri 28-Sep-18 20:03:44

ChocolateWombat. Firstly let me say I totally understand why schools are asking parents to pay. But in answer to your comments:

"it's a choice to either pay up and perhaps get your child a better grade, which might make a difference to their future"

"I'd see this as just another expenditure needed by kids....and probably one of the more worthwhile ones."

"remarks are always, extra, optional expenses, not part of the general curriculum, so if you want these extras you have to pay, in the same way that if you want extras like violin lessons you have to pay....not an equal world, but how it is."

"If exam marking were reliable, all of this wouldn't be an issue, but it is unreliable."

- I'd say it is extremely worthwhile to go for a remark if the given grade was say one point below the next grade. My own child previously received an uplift of 4 points, into the higher grade (so no charge). But another remark did not change the original grade and I paid for this second one.

No, I'd say remarks are very much part of the general curriculum not at all like violin lessons and are not optional extras. For most of these external exams the student is required to take the two/three year course and the exam by the school and the government (English and Maths being good examples). So I'd say remarks are just part of that process, so should be publicly funded, as is education (although not funded well by this government). It is not an equal world, you are correct, but this country is required to fund every single child's education.

- Many parents cannot afford remarks. So much so that some schools do not even start the conversation.

- Yes, exam marking should be much more reliable and the Dept of Ed should demand this of the exam boards.

- The final grades do make such a difference to the trajectory of a child's future study and career. This is a totally unfair situation for any parent who cannot afford a remark, a cost which is very likely to be charged to them if the grade doesn't change.

Remark costs are an extra tax on parents. This on top of schools already asking parents for money to pay for essentials.

-

OP’s posts: |
MaisyPops Fri 28-Sep-18 20:11:54

Unless a school thinks there has been serious mis marking across the board for their students, and considers steps towards a full review (which will need some individual uogrades first) then it is very usual for parents to have to pay.
Not only that but part of the reason (I would guess) boards have changed from remarks to review of marking is because what was happening is anyone (parents or schools) was putting in for endless remarks if they weren't happy with the mark.

If there's a reason to suspect something is off then it makes sense to send for a review of marking. It doesn't make sense to push for a review just because someone would rather have a 7 than a 6.

Cherryburn Fri 28-Sep-18 20:22:33

But how do you know the difference? If someone was predicted an 9 but got a 6 why is that better grounds for review than if they were predicted a 7? If the grade they scored was actually a 7, why shouldn’t they be awarded it regardless of the motivation for asking for the review?

MaisyPops Fri 28-Sep-18 20:28:10

Because it's a review of marking, not a remark.
Someone consistently working at 8s and 9s for a year who gets a low 6 is the sort of situation where school might say 'what's gone wrong'.
Someone who's into the 7 who gets a 6 is not the sort of 'what on earth went wrong' situation.

A review of marking is to check for clerical errors and that the mark scheme has been applied correctly. It is not 'does marker 2 find 2 extra marks to move it up a grade'.

What should schools do? Put anyone who didn't get their target grade in for a review of marking. £40 a shot for 200-250 students?

The idea that anyone disappointed should be entitled to a free review seems to be an extension of the general GCSE culture of endless intervention, endless revision sessions, holiday sessions, lay out the red carpet because if my child didn't get the grade they want it's someone else's fault.

Firstbornunicorn Fri 28-Sep-18 20:34:27

When I was doing my A-Levels, the board my school used for English was experimenting with a new "modular" model.

There was one module that my entire class did poorly on, which was strange. Even those expected to do very well got Ds.

And even though the school was suspicious of this, they didn't offer to pay for any remarks. My parents couldn't afford to pay, but I was working by then, so I paid for it myself.

My grade went from a D to an A. One other person had his remarked with exactly the same result. The school still didn't contact parents, except to say that anyone who wanted to resit the module had to apply by X date.

I really don't think it's fair to expect parents to pay in these types of situations at all (especially since I suspect this was some kind of dodgy experiment by the exam board).

However, if the reason for the remark is just that the student has scored and borderline grade and wants to see if a different marker could squeeze a few extra points out of it, then I think the student or parent should pay. If the original grade changes by a lot, though, I think they should get a refund.

OutwiththeOutCrowd Fri 28-Sep-18 20:41:00

Any system that tips the balance in favour of families who have the funds and knowledge to make it work for them has got to be suspect.

I would prefer to see a new standardised protocol around exam script rechecking for all schools and exam boards so that the outcome for students wasn’t dependent on schools/parents being particularly proactive or being able or willing to cough up the readies or on which exam board was involved.

MaisyPops Fri 28-Sep-18 20:41:17

If the original grade changes by a lot, though, I think they should get a refund.
The boards do that.

Most people I know who've put remarks in this year (range of departments and schools) have said the vast majority have stayed the same, some dropped and very few went up this year. Anecdotal, but always worth considering.

I think the 'my child was predicted an 8 and didn't get it so I want the paper remarking' days are over.

I agree with you that in situations where it looks like something has gone really wrong or is unusual the school should pay.

Firstbornunicorn Fri 28-Sep-18 20:46:30

@MaisyPops odd. I didn't get a refund. I'm in NI, which is often weird when it comes to education (and healthcare, policing, taxes, elections...).

MaisyPops Fri 28-Sep-18 20:48:44

From AQA www.aqa.org.uk/exams-administration/results-days/post-results/review-and-priority-review-of-mark

If the overall subject grade changes, we don’t charge for it (or any of its units if it's modular).

Cherryburn Fri 28-Sep-18 20:51:46

So why pretend that the marking is accurate enough to give grades on a 9-1 scale? If it really does just come down to judgement within a band (so if you got a harsh marker vs a lenient marker the same script could be a 6 or an 8, say, once the marks are added up) why not just have ‘fail’, ‘pass’ and ‘ooh, you did rather well’?

Firstbornunicorn Fri 28-Sep-18 21:01:26

If the overall subject grade changes, we don’t charge for it (or any of its units if it's modular).

Interesting!! That wasn't the board we did but I wonder if the school got a refund they didn't tell me about.

Or, I could be misremembering. It was (sniff!) over 10 years ago!

MaisyPops Fri 28-Sep-18 21:13:13

cherry
There's a list of criteria. Students hit them or they don't. There's a certain level of personal judgement within a band (somewhat inevitable for any subject without right or wrong tick box answers) but it's fairly clear when an answer is a clear piece of analysis, has subject terms and has answered the question vs a student who has a sophisticated understanding of the text and is doing more than following a formula given by a teacher to get them a 5.

They don't always get it right. Extra scripts are thrown in that have been marked already. If you mark them wrong then you're frozen out until the team leader contacts you.
There's a massive shortage of markers because the time required for the pay isn't that good and they generally get marked whilst teachers are still teaching.

I think there's improvement to be had within the system. I don't think the culture of 'I didn't like my mark so the world should fund me a review' is the way forward.

Cherryburn Fri 28-Sep-18 21:34:13

Maisy I’d have more confidence in the system if there weren’t so many changes to grades on remark. Even with the new review system (designed to stop grade changes) it’s still happening. We submitted one subject for DS (which we were genuinely surprised about) and it went up, and there are loads of other examples on here and also at DS’s school. It’s utterly unfair if it comes down to ability to pay. Why should a child whose parents and/or school can’t or won’t pay lose the grade they have earned?

I agree that markers aren’t paid enough, and I know there’s a shortage of good ones. But that isn’t the DC’s fault and until the system is fit for purpose it’s unfair to pretend that it’s sensitive enough to accurately and consistently discriminate between grades on a 9-1 scale. It’s bad enough at the top end but worse is that the difference between a 3 and a 4 will dictate whether a DC can access a college course and/or will have to retake English or Maths.

It’s a bloody scandal.

MaisyPops Fri 28-Sep-18 22:20:09

I don't think the system is perfect, but for my subject this was our 2nd year through the new GCSEs and theres been a lot less movement than last year (when it was the first year). For many subjects this is their first year though. Ultimately with any changeover there's teething problems (our exam board last year was awful at times in my opinion).

Most schools do pay for the 3/4 ones because it makes a big difference to where students can go onto.

Anyone who thinks 'I'm not happy with the grade so school should automatically pay £40 a paper for a review (so potentially £160 a child in my subject alone!)' is out of their mind.

When there are ks3 class sizes of 34, staff teaching out of specialisms to cover subjects at ks3 to save money, entire subjects are being slashed, the idea if putting every paper not at target grade in for a review on the off chance it goes up is a giant waste of limited school resources.

Witchend Fri 28-Sep-18 23:24:12

I’d have more confidence in the system if there weren’t so many changes to grades on remark.

I don't think there are that many changed. People will put in the ones that are close to the upper boundary, and those where they got a surprising result. You don't hear about the ones who stayed the same as much.

But I am uncomfortable with it, even having put one in for remarking (and it went up). As I said to dd1, if we had to put every one of her exams in, we could risk a ridiculous amount of money on the basis some would change and we wouldn't pay for those.
Other people won't have the £40 to pay up front, even if they're pretty confident of getting it back, or can't afford to risk not getting it back.
it's another way where it's apparently equal across the pay scale, but if you look carefully it's set up to give the people with money a second bite.

Some schools will pay for obvious errors, but they can't afford to pay for everyone who thinks they should be altered.

Astronotus Fri 28-Sep-18 23:57:30

MaisyPops. "When there are ks3 class sizes of 34, staff teaching out of specialisms to cover subjects at ks3 to save money, entire subjects are being slashed, the idea if putting every paper not at target grade in for a review on the off chance it goes up is a giant waste of limited school resources."

It boils down to:

Not enough money in education.

How long do parents and pupils have to put up with this?

OP’s posts: |
AlexanderHamilton Sat 29-Sep-18 00:13:15

Dds was paid for because after a review by the teacher of the marks for her French papers the teacher (who conducted the speaking paper) felt she had been under marked on that component.

Whether anything changes or not remains to be seen.

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