Consultation Regarding Replacement of Exams for Summer 2021

Consultation: Replacement of Exams for Summer 2021

Currently there is a consultation open regarding the replacement of exams for summer 2021. This consultation is aimed at getting views of different stakeholders in order to arrive at a system that is fair and robust. The reason for cancelling exams is because there is a general consensus that exams can not be held in a fair way due to differential learning loss across the country. The challenge now is to design a system that is based on a range of evidence in order to arrive at a final GCSE grade and ensure that there is a clear system for quality assurance and appeals.

The consultation raises many questions that are yet to be answered, but in this document we wanted to share with you what is being discussed and what happens next.

Who will be awarding GCSE grades now that there are no exams in the summer?

Exam grades will be awarded by the school based on a range of evidence. What this range of evidence is has not been specified and we will be expecting further guidance from the exam boards. There will be a system of quality assurance both internally and externally that will be in place to ensure that grades have been awarded in accordance with the criteria issued by the exam board. The details of this system of quality assurance is yet to be shared with school.

What evidence will be used to determine GCSE grades?

The consultation states that teachers assessments will be based on the standards that students are performing at. This is different to last year where teachers were asked to project what grade a student would achieve had they sat the exam and this was based on evidence teachers had collected. Given grades will be based on standards that students are performing at, it means that work students are currently doing as vital. The consultation states that teacher assessment could be based on evidence such as:

  • Formal tests and Mock examinations
  • Exam Board papers
  • Substantial candidate work

More guidance is required from exam boards regarding what schools are to use, how to use it and what ‘substantial candidate work’ actually means in order to arrive at a teacher assessment. We are currently unaware what can be used to reach teacher assessments therefore it is vital that students continue to do their best every day.

What are the Exam Board papers? 

The consultation is proposing that exam boards could provide papers, which would be marked by teachers to help inform their assessments but does not specify whether using materials will be mandatory or optional. As of yet there is no guidance on what, how and when materials will be used. Following the consultation we will adhere to the guidance given by the Exam Boards.

Will students be examined on the full course content?

The consultation states that teachers assessments will be based on the standards that students are performing at. Exam boards will focus on what grade students are ‘performing at’ rather than projected grades. The consultation suggests that teachers should assess students on the areas of content they have covered and can demonstrate their ability, while ensuring sufficient breadth of content coverage. This will support consideration of differential learning loss that needs to be taken into account when awarding grades. Following the consultation, it is hoped that Exam boards will release guidance on how to address differential learning loss. The course content for some modules in Vocational courses have been amended to reflect the loss of learning time.

When will teacher Assessments be submitted to the Exam Board?

Teachers will continue to gather evidence until the end of May/start of June. At the end of May/start of June teachers will be collating evidence and following Exam Board advice in order to award grades. We are hoping that leaving the opportunity for students to provide evidence as late as possible will motivate them to continue to work hard and engage in making progress. Working until the end of May will also provide extra time to address learning gaps.

What happens after Teacher assessments are submitted?

Once data has been submitted, internal quality assurance will take place mid June. No guidance has been given from Exam Boards regarding what this would look like. Once the window for internal quality assurance has taken place there will be a process for external quality assurance. No guidance has been given from Exam boards regarding what this will look like. Provisional results could be available early July when an Appeals Process will open. No details have been released from Exam Boards regarding what the Appeals process will look like.

What can my child do to have the best chance of achieving the grades they have the potential to achieve?

Assessment information is being collected until late in the academic year. Not only will this give students the opportunity to catch up with lost learning, but also provide increased learning time where students can demonstrate progress. Students need to know that the work that they are doing now will have an impact on their final grade. This should motivate them to engage in their learning. What has happened in previous exams/assessments may or may not be included in the evidence base when making final teacher assessments, so it is really important that students look ahead to what they can do now, rather than dwelling on what has already happened.

Assessment will be based on what has been taught and so recognises that students in different schools have had the opportunity to access more of the course than others. There will be a broad range of assessment taken into consideration when determining final grades, so there will be numerous opportunities for students to demonstrate that they have made progress.

The best advice for students is to attend live lessons, engage in their learning, take opportunities that departments are offering regarding revision and follow teacher advice on how to make improvements.

What happens next?

The Consultation ends Friday 29th January. Therefore, we do not expect a response to the information gathered until the end of February. Following the release of the consultation findings the Exam Boards will then work on providing schools with details about the next steps. 

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