If you have just received your exam results, you may be interested to find out more about how you have been marked, the comments made about you and your exam paper. You may even want to make an appeal against a mark you have been given.
The General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) gives you the right to see information held about you. This means that you can request information about you and your exam performance including your mark, any comments written by the examiner, and minutes of any meetings of the examination appeals panels where your exam performance was discussed.
It does not, however, give you the right to copies of your answers to exam questions.
To access the information held about you, you need to write to the place that holds the information. You may be able to get that address from your school’s or university’s appeals procedure.
You can use email, but it is important for you to keep a copy of whatever you send and write down the date you sent it.
As long as the exam results have been published, your school or university must respond to your request for your information within one month.
If you want to request information about your school or university, you can obtain official information (such as school or university policies and procedures) under the Freedom of Information Act. Your school or university must reply to a Freedom of Information Request within 20 working days.
If you want to make an appeal against a mark you have been given, the GDPR means that the mark you were awarded by the examiner must be recorded accurately, but it does not give you the right to challenge the examiner’s decision.
You may, however, be able to appeal a mark you have been given in an exam under the examination board’s own procedures if you believe a procedure was not followed correctly, there was bias or prejudice in the decision-making, or the examiner has made a mistake.
The first thing to do is to obtain a copy of your school’s or university’s appeals procedure. This may be available from their website, or by contacting their main office. This will tell you what you need to do, and who to contact.
Many students have asked whether schools and universities are allowed to provide exam results to the media for publication.
Publishing examination results is a common and accepted practice. Many students enjoy seeing their name in print, particularly in the local press and the GDPR does not stop this happening. Under the GDPR, however, schools have to act fairly when publishing results. Where students have concerns about their information being published, schools must take those concerns seriously.
Schools should make sure that all pupils and their parents or guardians are aware as early as possible whether examinations results will be made public and how this will be done. Schools should also explain how the information will be published. For example, if results will be listed alphabetically, or in grade order.
In general, because a school has a legitimate reason for publishing examination results, pupils or their parents or guardians do not need to give their consent to publication. However, if you have a specific concern about publication of your results, you have the right to object. Schools should consider objections from pupils (and parents) before making a decision to publish. A school would need to have a good reason to reject someone’s objection to publication of their exam results.
The GDPR does not specify an age when a child or young person can request their exam results, or request that they are not published. When a child or young person makes a request, those responsible for responding should take into account both whether the child or young person wants their parent (or someone with parental responsibility for them) to be involved, and also that the child or young person properly understands what is involved.
The ability of young people to understand and to exercise their rights is likely to develop or to become more sophisticated as they get older. In its guidance, the Information Commissioner’s Office has stated that, generally, children of 12 or older are expected to be mature enough to understand the request they are making. Children may, of course, be mature enough at an earlier age or may lack sufficient maturity until a later age, and so requests must be considered on a case by case basis.
For further details on this topic please contact Jane Whitfield at [email protected] or on 0118 958 9711.