Teachers to get sweeping powers to determine students’ GCSE and A-Level exam results

Anna Davis
·3-min read
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Teenagers’ grades will be decided by their teachers, it has been confirmed

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Teachers will be able to choose the evidence they want to use to determine their studentsGCSE and A-Level grades, it has been announced.

Teenagers’ grades will be decided by their teachers, it has been confirmed, after all exams were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Students will not be forced to sit “mini exams”, but exam boards will publish questions that teachers can set their pupils so they have evidence to base their grades on.

These will be optional and the questions will not have to be answered under exam conditions or within a time limit.

Teachers will then also be able to look at students’ coursework, mock exam results, essays and in-class tests when determining grades.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson also announced today:

  • Students will only be assessed on work they have been taught.

  • A-Level results will be published on August 10 and GCSEs on August 12. This is around two weeks earlier than normal to allow appeals to be carried out.

  • Teachers will submit grades to exam boards by June 18, allowing as much teaching time as possible before teachers make their assessments.

  • No algorithm will be used, following the results day chaos last year.

  • Every student will have the right to appeal their grade.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said “fairness and flexibility” are at the heart of the plans.

Schools will be expected to conduct “multiple checks” on the consistency of judgements of different teachers. Exam boards will also conduct their own checks, through a combination of random sampling and more targeted scrutiny where they identify cause for concern.

Mr Williamson said: “Young people have shown incredible resilience over the last year, continuing with their learning amidst unprecedented challenges while the country battles with this pandemic. Those efforts deserve to be fairly rewarded.

“That’s why we are providing the fairest possible system for those pupils, asking those who know them best – their teachers – to determine their grades, with our sole aim to make sure all young people can progress to the next stage of their education or career.”

Exam boards will supply questions on all subjects to teachers, which they will be able to use in whichever way they see fit. They will be a combination of past exam papers and unseen questions.

Teachers will be able to ask pupils to answer the questions during normal lesson times, and use the results to plug any gaps in the evidence they need to decide on grades, or to validate their thinking.

All students will be able to appeal their grades but they could go up or down as a result. Students and schools will not have to pay for appeals.

Officials said teachers will be given the flexibility to determine the range of evidence that is most appropriate for them to use.

Simon Lebus, Ofqual’s interim chief regulator, said: “We know how difficult this past year has been for many students, parents, schools and colleges. In normal years, we rely on exams to support students’ progression.

“This year it is teachers’ judgement that will be used to assess what has been learned and determine student grades. Assessment cannot itself serve as an instrument to recover lost learning and compensate for the different experiences students will have had in different parts of the country, and the arrangements being put in place will therefore only take into account what students have been taught, not what they have missed.

“The aim is to make it no harder overall for this year’s students to receive a particular grade than students in other years.

“I am confident that these arrangements will allow all parts of the education and training sector to work together collectively to make sure students’ grades reflect what they have achieved and provide a sound basis to enable them to make good decisions about their future.”

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