On Friday 3rd April, Ofqual set out details on how grades for GCSEs and A levels will be awarded following the cancellation of this year’s public exams. We encourage those pupils and parents impacted to read the announcement and supporting documents carefully and the links to these can be found at the end of this page.

What schools are being asked to do

“Exam boards will be contacting schools, colleges and other exam centres after Easter asking them to submit, by a deadline that will be no earlier than 29 May 2020, the following:

  • a centre assessment grade for every student in each of their subjects: that is, the grade they would be most likely to have achieved if they had sat their exams and completed any non-exam assessment. Judgements should balance different sources of evidence such as:
    • classwork
    • bookwork
    • any participation in performances in subjects such as music, drama or PE
    • any non-exam assessment – whether or not complete
    • the results of any assignments or mock exams
    • previous examination results – for example, for any re-sitting students or those with relevant AS qualifications
    • any other records of student performance over the course of study
  • the rank order of students within each grade for each subject – for example, for all those students with a centre assessment grade of 5 in GCSE maths, a rank order where 1 is the most secure/highest attaining student, and so on. This information will be used in the statistical standardisation of centres’ judgements – allowing fine-tuning of the standard applied across all schools and colleges
  • a declaration from the Head of Centre making the submission.”

Ofqual have produced detailed additional guidance for schools on this process. We will be reviewing this carefully and we will use this to develop the necessary internal processes required to ensure our grading judgements are fair and consistent.

What the exam boards will do

“To make sure that grades are as fair as possible across schools and colleges, exam boards will put all centre assessment grades through a process of standardisation using a model being developed with Ofqual. We will consult on the principles of our model shortly, but we expect it will look at evidence such as the expected national outcomes for this year’s students, the prior attainment of students at each school and college (at cohort, not individual level), and the results of the school or college in recent years. It will not change the rank order of students within each centre; nor will it assume that the distribution of grades in each subject or centre should be the same. The process will also recognise the past performance of schools and colleges.

However, if grading judgements in some schools and colleges appear to be more severe or generous than others, exam boards will adjust the grades of some or all of those students upwards or downwards accordingly.”

In summary, this may mean that the grades that we submit to the exam board for our candidates may be changed by them as a result of their standardisation process.

Additional work

“There is no requirement to set additional mock exams or homework tasks for the purposes of determining a centre assessment grade, and no student should be disadvantaged if they are unable to complete any work set after schools were closed. Where additional work has been completed after schools and colleges were closed on 20 March, Heads of Centre should exercise caution where that evidence suggests a change in performance. In many cases, this is likely to reflect the circumstances and context in which the work is done.”

We will, therefore, take into account any work submitted in line with the guidance issued by Ofqual but will not be setting further work to assess for pupils in the Fifth Form and Upper Sixth for the purpose of making judgements about public exam grading. We will continue to set work to finish course specifications and to consolidate learning in the first few weeks of the summer term. This will be particularly important if pupils later choose to take an exam in Autumn 2020 or in Summer 2021.

Release of results

“Schools and colleges have been told that they must not share their centre assessment grades with students, parents or carers, under any circumstances, until after final results are issued. This is to protect the integrity of centres’ judgements and to avoid anyone feeling under pressure to submit a grade that is not supported by the evidence.”
“results won’t be delayed after the dates they were expected in August and ideally will be released a little earlier.”

Ofqual has subsequently confirmed that results days for A level and GCSE exams will be the same as originally published: A levels – 13th August; GCSE: 20th August. In the guidance to schools, Ofqual has been clear that teachers must not give any indication of the grade that will be submitted to the exam board. We therefore ask, that pupils, parents and guardians do not contact teaching staff to discuss grades.

Access arrangements and reasonable adjustment

“Schools and colleges will judge the grade that these students would most likely have achieved if they had been able to sit their examinations with the intended reasonable adjustment or access arrangement in place.”

The responsibility for recognising this has been passed to schools and we will, therefore, build this into our internal processes for reaching grading judgements.

Appeals and autumn exams

“We are all focused on making sure students are not disadvantaged by these unprecedented circumstances including to allow for an appeal where appropriate. Under the circumstances, the normal arrangements for reviews of marking and appeals will not apply. We are considering what
arrangements might be put in place to allow an effective appeal and will consult on proposals shortly. Students who feel that their grades from the summer do not reflect their ability will have the opportunity to take their exams in the autumn series or in summer 2021. If they choose to do this, both grades will stand.”

We await further information on the appeals process and the precise timing of any autumn examinations. We will share this and any other relevant information with you as soon as it becomes available.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all again for your continued patience and understanding in this time of unprecedented events. As you might imagine there is considerable work for us to do to reach these grading decisions in the weeks ahead but we want to reassure you that this is a top priority for us and, within the parameters we have been given, we will do our very best for all our pupils.

Ofqual announcement: Government Website: How GCSEs and A Levels will be awarded in summer 2020


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