Appeals procedure

Frequently Asked Questions about Appeals:

How were my grades arrived at this year?

Grades this summer were 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 were then approved by the relevant exam board, following external quality assurance checks.

In some cases, the TAGs we submitted may have been reviewed by the exam board, who may have asked us to submit an alternative grade. However, any changes to the grades we submitted were done by professional teachers or reviewers; this year no grades have been changed as a result of an algorithm.

What do I do if I’m not happy with my 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 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?

The main grounds for appeal, as dictated by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) 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). 
  • 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.

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.

What will be the outcome of an appeal?

At either stage of the appeals process (see below for the stages), a student’s grade may go up, stay the same, 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.

What is a priority appeal?

Priority appeals are only open to A Level students starting university this autumn, who have missed out on the conditions of their firm or insurance offer.

Priority appeals will be handled more quickly than other appeals, where possible before UCAS’s advisory deadline of 8 September.

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

JCQ cannot offer priority appeals for GCSE students.

When making a priority appeal, students will have to include their UCAS number so it can be confirmed that it is a genuine priority appeal.

What should I do if I don’t get into my first choice of university?

First, don’t panic. Speak to Mr Radley about your options. You may wish to go through clearing, or sit the autumn exams or summer exams next year to try to improve your grade.

If you are going to appeal your grade, you must let your university know you are appealing. They will then let you know whether they will hold a place for you pending the outcome of an appeal (note that universities are not obliged to hold a place for you; this is at their discretion).

What should I do before appealing?

Students must read the JCQ Student and Parent guide before appealing, which is available on the JCQ website.

We may 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 appropriate form, 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?

There are 2 separate stages to the summer appeals process

Stage 1 – centre review

Stage 2 – appeal to the awarding organisation

Before an appeal can be made to the awarding organisation a student must request a centre review.

It is important to note that the outcome of either stage is that the original result is raised, remains the same or is lowered. Once a finding has been made you cannot withdraw your request for a centre review or appeal. If the result has been lowered you cannot revert back to the original grade received on results day.

Stage 1 Centre Review

Any student may submit a request for a centre review on the grounds that the centre has: 

  • failed to follow its procedures properly or consistently in arriving at that result 
  • made an administrative error in relation to the result

A student should make a copy of the Centre review and appeals form, complete Stage one section A and then email the completed form from their school HBHS email to by the following dates: A separate form should be completed for each subject request.

Priority centre review:

*Only students applying to Higher Education who have not achieved their Firm University offer – 9am on Monday 16 August 


Non priority centre review:

All other students – 9am Friday 3 September 


Outcome of a centre review

We will aim to complete all priority centre reviews by 3.30pm on Thursday 19 August. All non priority centre reviews will be completed by 3.30pm on Monday 13 September. The centre review will be completed by senior staff. This will include a full administrative check of all available student scripts, a complete check on the accuracy of subject data spreadsheets and a check that all access arrangements were in place for all high control assessed work (those done in examination style conditions) and NEA tasks.

Once the centre review is complete the outcome will be emailed to a student’s hbhs email account.

Stage 2 –  appeal to the awarding organisation (exam board) 

An appeal to the awarding organisation can only be made after a centre review has been completed and the outcome communicated to the student.

If a student believes there is still an error following the centre review, that  the awarding organisation has made an administrative error, or the student considers that the grade awarded was an unreasonable exercise of academic judgement, the student can submit a request to the school to proceed with an appeal to the awarding organisation on their behalf. A student should complete the Stage 2 appeals section of the centre review and appeal form emailed to them with the outcome of the stage 1 review. This should then be emailed  to from the student’s hbhs email address by the dates stated below.

The awarding organisation will not be able to consider an appeal that is based solely on differences of opinion – the reviewer will not be reviewing the marking of individual assessments, but instead will consider whether the teacher assessed grade is a reasonable exercise of academic judgement. If the student wants to improve their grade they may want to instead consider entering for the autumn exam series. We will share further details of the confirmed timetables as soon as possible.

Priority appeal:

*Only students applying to Higher Education who have not attained their Firm University offer – 9am on Monday 23 August


Non priority appeal:

All other students – 9am on Thursday 16 September


*Priority Appeals

Please read the following details carefully before you submit either a priority centre review or a priority appeal to an awarding organisation.

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. You will need to provide in the request form(s) your UCAS personal ID code which is included in all correspondence from UCAS. This is needed to confirm that a student’s place is dependent on the outcome of the appeal

Priority appeals that aren’t submitted to the awarding organisation by 23 August 2021 will still be treated as a priority but they may not be completed in time for those with a higher education place dependent on the outcome of the appeal. 

Additional Information

Both a centre review and an appeal to an awarding organisation are free to students, but original grades can increase, stay the same or be lowered as a result of either process. There is no further opportunity to appeal the outcome to the awarding organisation.