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Avoiding grade challenges on ‘unconscious bias’

26 May 2021

A system based on teacher assessed grades, rather than external exams, was inevitably going to give rise to speculation about bias and objectivity in teacher assessment and grading decisions. For example, a recent media story highlighted an international study which reported a 10% advantage in teachers' grades for pupils with more "agreeable" personalities. Reports of this kind will be of concern to parents and pupils and this could potentially lead to more appeals on these grounds once results are published in August.

Schools can prepare now for these kinds of challenges by ensuring that they have clear written evidence readily available which:

  • demonstrates that all relevant staff have actively engaged in training and been offered support on avoiding conscious and unconscious bias and the importance of objectivity in decision making
  • records how evidence was used to arrive at a fair and objective grade which is free from bias
  • evidences how the internal standardisation process ensured different perspectives and removed or reduced opportunities for bias
  • shows that any individual concerns or complaints regarding bias and objectivity have been thoroughly investigated

Our team of education and HR experts have extensive experience of supporting schools and academies on these kinds of issues. Contact our Head of HR Services, Emma Hughes, to find out more about our online staff training and self-directed learning pack on conscious and unconscious bias and objective decision making.

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