Ofqual action on AQA issues

Tuesday 15 Oct 2019

Ofqual has made announcements about three separate AQA issues.

Reviews of marking

In autumn 2018, we identified a small proportion of past reviews of marking where marking was reviewed by the same examiner who did the original marking.

This didn’t comply with Ofqual’s reviews of marking requirements which were introduced in 2016.

As a result, Ofqual intends to fine AQA £350,000. In addition, we’ve agreed to pay compensation to the affected schools. You can read the full details of the case and settlement on Ofqual’s website.

This was a technical issue as a result of us not having the right internal processes in place to make sure all reviews were carried out in their entirety by someone who hadn’t been involved in the original marking.

It didn’t affect the outcome of anyone’s review of marking and the affected reviews still resulted in grade changes where necessary. This issue has been fixed since the November 2018 exams.

Reviews of marking are only carried out by our best, most experienced examiners who are very unlikely to have made mistakes in their original marking – and, in the vast majority of cases, only one isolated, anonymised answer on a paper was reviewed by the senior examiner who originally marked it, without them having any way of knowing.

But we know that reviews of marking should always be carried out by a fresh pair of eyes, so we’re sorry that this wasn’t always the case. We’ve made a wide range of improvements to fix the issue including new checks, technical upgrades to our CMI+ marking platform and more reviewers.

There were no issues with the RM Results software that we use for some of our online marking of whole scripts.

AQA is a charity and we invest all the money we make back into qualifications and assessment – so we didn’t profit from this issue. But we’re paying back all the money we received from schools for the parts of the reviews that were affected.

We’re also making sure that schools get the money we should have spent on checks that would have stopped this issue from happening in the first place. This will be included in the payment each school receives from us.

We’re contacting the affected schools – and the money will be credited to everyone’s AQA accounts within the next three weeks.

A-level French

Ofqual has also announced its intention to fine AQA £50,000 for a separate issue involving the mark scheme for one A-level French question in summer 2018, which was too prescriptive.

We gave the 527 affected students the extra marks they deserved – and we’ve improved the way we check our exam papers to stop an issue like this from happening again.

You can read about this case on Ofqual’s website.

GCSE English Literature

Ofqual has also published a letter criticising us for not identifying risks around a GCSE English Literature question from summer 2018 early enough.

The question was almost identical to one on a sample paper. We told Ofqual about this the day before the exam, but we’ve accepted that we should have identified the potential risks and told Ofqual about them earlier.

They’re not fining us for this issue and they’re not saying it was wrong for us to use the question itself.