ASCL comment on AQA exam fee rebate

16/07/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on AQA’s announcement of a 26% rebate on exam fees.
 
Commenting on AQA’s announcement of a 26% rebate on exam fees, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“It is completely unacceptable that the rebate on fees for exams which didn’t take place is so low. Schools and colleges have taken on the vast majority of the work in assessing their students following the government’s decision to cancel public exams. Staff have worked tirelessly in extremely difficult circumstances to ensure their students are given fair and accurate grades while the role of the exam boards has been confined largely to administration and quality assurance. This rebate should have reflected this division of labour but patently fails to do so.
 
“The majority of headteachers we surveyed in June wanted to see a rebate of 75% or more and they will feel badly let down by this outcome. To add insult to injury the government expects them to use this meagre rebate to cover the cost of exam fees for any students entering the autumn series, effectively recycling the money back to the exam boards.
 
“The cost of exam fees is considerable. Our survey found the average total bill this summer is £116,967 for schools with a sixth form, and £75,238 for schools without a sixth form. This is paid out of budgets that have been hammered by the impact of Covid costs such as lost revenue from lettings, cover for absent staff, and enhanced cleaning schedules. There has been little support from the government with these costs and a significant rebate on exam fees was therefore particularly important.
 
“We have challenged the exam boards over this matter and we understand that they have fixed costs. However, we are not satisfied that enough has been done here to provide a rebate which reflects the fact that schools and colleges have done the lion’s share of the work, and we now await the decisions of the other boards.
 
“Schools and colleges have been dumped on time and time again following the cancellation of public exams and the inadequacy of this rebate simply rubs salt in the wound.”