How will exam grades and primary school tests work this summer?
- Credit: PA
Students can be confident their GCSE and A-level grades will be “determined objectively” this summer, exams regulator Ofqual has said.
Schools and colleges will not be sitting exams this year after it was deemed to not be fair after the disruption students have experienced since the start of the pandemic.
Instead, GCSE, A and AS level students will get grades based on teachers’ assessments of them.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the government had this year devised the “fairest possible system for those pupils, asking those who know best - their teachers - to determine their grades".
Former local head Geoff Barton, who is now general secretary of the ASCL headteacher union, said the changes gives teachers “flexibility to use a range of evidence in assessing students, enabling them to take into account lost learning as a result of the pandemic.”
“This will, however, mean a huge amount of additional work for school and college leaders and for teaching staff, at a time when they are already under enormous pressure managing Covid safety processes, and supporting pupils after the lockdown,” he added.
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But how will it work in practice?
How will pupils' GCSE and A-level grades be decided?
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Teachers will be able to draw on a range of evidence when determining grades, including mock exams, coursework or other work completed as part of a pupil's course, such as essays or in-class tests.
Cath Jadhav, director of standards and comparability at exams regulator Ofqual, said: “We are asking teachers to take an evidence-based approach, so that students, their parents and carers, and all those who use the grades awarded this summer can see how their final grade has been arrived at and know that they have been determined objectively.”
What if pupils are unhappy with their grades?
Results will be published earlier than normal - August 10 for A-level students and August 12 for GCSE results - to give pupils more time to appeal.
Students will be able to appeal if they believe an error has been made, or they do not believe their grade is a fair reflection of their work. Appeals will be submitted to the exam boards by schools and colleges on behalf of students.
But teachers will share with students which pieces of work they will base their assessment judgements on, before the recommended grades are submitted in June. This means there should be fewer surprises come results days in August.
Will the grades take into account children having spent differing amounts of time out of school over the last year?
Ms Jadhav said: “Students will be assessed only on what they have been taught, so students who have missed more teaching than others will be assessed on a narrower range of content.
“Where a school or college believes that a student has suffered misfortune that might have affected their performance in an assessment, they have discretion to take account of that in coming to their judgement.”
What about testing for primary school children?
Some primary tests have been scrapped, but most will go ahead.
At key stage 1, reading, maths and grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS) tests will be removed for one year, but teacher assessments in reading, writing and maths will still take place.
SATs tests at key stage 1 will not go ahead, but most teacher assessments for that age group and most key stage 2 SATs will continue with some changes to timetables, though primary performance data will also not be published.
The DfE said that continuing with some of the assessment “will help to understand pupils’ lost time in education and support those that need it most, providing vital information to parents and assisting with pupils’ transition to secondary schools”.
What about vocational qualifications?
Teachers' grades will be used to replace written vocational exams, in the same way as GCSEs and A-levels.
But where there are practical, hands-on skills to be tested, such as for a professional qualification, some of these exams will continue in a Covid-safe way.
The results for some vocational qualifications will be released in the week of August 9.
These qualifications include many Btecs and Cambridge Nationals.