ICO offers to ease the pain of school exam failures

StudentsDisappointed students who have failed to get the right GCSE and A-level grades have been given a shoulder to cry on by the Information Commissioner’s Office, after being told they can find out exactly what the examiner thought of their work.
The move comes as hundreds of thousands of teenagers prepare to open those all-important results, which could determine which career path or university place they pursue.
Under the Data Protection Act, individuals have the right to request the information that an organisation holds about them – known as a subject access request. In the case of exam results, exam bodies must respond within 40 days from the date the results were published or within five months of the request being received – whichever of the two is the earliest.
An ICO spokesman said: “We’ve all experienced the excitement and occasional disappointment that the exam season can bring. We’re reminding students that they have a right under the Data Protection Act to see information about their results.
“This right doesn’t just apply to A-level exams. Students sitting GCSEs, Scottish Highers and degree examinations can also request to see their information. If examination bodies fail in their legal duty to respond then students can bring a complaint to the ICO and we will look into it.”
Although the ICO points out that having access to information – such as a breakdown of their overall mark and examiners’ comments – may not lead to their grades being altered, it could help students make decisions that affect their future, such as deciding to re-sit an exam or pursue a particular subject at college or university.

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