UK

Headteachers warn pushy parents their child’s grades may be CUT

Headteachers warn pushy parents their child’s grades may be CUT if they try to bully teachers

  • Ofqual says any attempt to interfere with assessments breaches the rules
  • Exams watchdog added a pupil’s results can be quashed if malpractice found
  • Schools and colleges will use a range of evidence to decide students’ grades 

Pushy parents who pile pressure on teachers to improve their children’s GCSE or A-level grades will be reported to exam boards, headteachers have warned.

Exams watchdog Ofqual supports the stance, saying any attempt to interfere with teachers’ assessments breaches the rules and if malpractice is found, a pupil’s results could be quashed.

Teachers are this year responsible for assessing the standard of their students’ work after exams were cancelled for the second year in a row. 

Schools and colleges will use a range of evidence to decide grades, including mock exams, work completed in class and online, course work and optional mini-exams set by exam boards.

Pushy parents who pile pressure on teachers to improve their children’s GCSE or A-level grades will be reported to exam boards, headteachers have warned. Pictured: Stock image

But fears of a ‘free-for-all’ over grades has sparked concern that ‘sharp elbowed’ parents may seek to apply pressure on school staff to gain top marks for their children.

Some secondary schools have written to families warning them not to attempt to influence teachers.

Parents of pupils at Westbourne Academy in Ipswich, Suffolk, were told in a letter: ‘If students or parents are found to be putting teachers or leaders under undue pressure to increase grades, then this matter will be referred to the exam boards and an investigation into malpractice may ensue.’

It adds that should malpractice be proved, results could be invalidated and certification suspended.

At Waverley School in Birmingham, parents have been banned from contacting individual members of staff to discuss grades, while Bradford Academy in West Yorkshire told pupils in a letter: ‘Students must not pressure teachers to reveal the grades they are submitting, or to increase the grades, as doing so may be considered exam malpractice.’

At Waverley School in Birmingham, parents have been banned from contacting individual members of staff to discuss grades

At Waverley School in Birmingham, parents have been banned from contacting individual members of staff to discuss grades

Bradford Academy in West Yorkshire told pupils in a letter: 'Students must not pressure teachers to reveal the grades they are submitting, or to increase the grades, as doing so may be considered exam malpractice'

Bradford Academy in West Yorkshire told pupils in a letter: ‘Students must not pressure teachers to reveal the grades they are submitting, or to increase the grades, as doing so may be considered exam malpractice’ 

Teacher-assessed grades will be moderated and checked by exam boards but will not be worked out according to a mathematical model, or algorithm, as happened last summer when thousands had their results downgraded. 

The ensuing row led to results being scrapped and replaced by teachers’ grades.

This year’s assessment plan has led to predictions of widespread cheating, excessively generous marking and rampant grade inflation owing to the lack of a common standard for the evidence schools will use. 

Ofqual says exam boards will check if results are ‘out of line with expectations based on past performance’ – and grades could be lowered before they are issued.

Last week, Ofqual’s interim chairman Ian Bauckham told the Association of School and College Leaders conference that pupils should know ‘on what evidence their grade has been determined’.

But he added that neither ‘the selection of evidence, nor the decision about the grade are topics for negotiation’.

Richard Sheriff, president of the ASCL, warned parents with ‘pointy elbows and lawyer friends’ could widen the equality gap if they sought to influence marking.

A spokesman for Ofqual said: ‘Behaviour that compromises, attempts to compromise or may compromise the process of assessment, the integrity of any qualification or the validity of a result or certificate is malpractice.’

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