The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. It maintains standards and confidence in GCSEs, A levels, AS levels, and vocational and technical qualifications. It is independent of government and reports directly to parliament.
NAHT meets with Ofqual regularly, both on an individual basis and with other school leaders' and teaching associations.
Latest Ofqual information
General qualifications (GCSEs, A levels, AS levels)
- Ahead of this summer's awards, Ofqual has published a letter to schools, outlining some of the changes seen in entries this year and possible implications for the results in August. It also explains how Ofqual is working with the exam boards to make sure that students taking GCSEs, AS, A levels or new Level 3 Applied Generals and Tech levels are treated fairly. You can access our summary of the GCSE and A Level entry data here.
- Ofqual has published its report on the summer 2017 exam series. Overall, exam boards and schools/colleges managed the series well considering the complexity of the series and the unforeseeable tragic events
- Ofqual urged caution around schools/colleges predicting grade boundaries or using 2017 grade boundaries to predict student grades
- Reviews of centre marked work:
- There has always been a requirement that schools/colleges provide a review process for centre marking, but there was not a requirement that students knew their marks. Ofqual felt this was an anomaly, and so introduced a requirement that students knew their marks. However, unions have raised concerns about the timing, communication and impact on workload. There are particular problems in schools and colleges where there are only one or two teachers of a subject, both of whom are involved in the original marking of non-exam assessment. This necessitates trying to make some reciprocal arrangement with another school/college who also teaches the same subject and specification
- Access to scripts:
- Awarding organisations are required to make these available for schools/colleges to access from 2020; however, it is not a requirement that schools/colleges must access a script before they submit a review of marking
- Ahead of this summer's awards, Ofqual has written to all head teachers of secondary schools and FE colleges with some useful information on conducting this year’s GCSE, AS and A level exams. This includes advice on mobile phones, exam package security and supervision for students with exam clashes.
Vocational and technical qualifications
- Ahead of this summer's awards, Ofqual has written to encourage awarding organisations offering applied general and tech level qualifications to consider changes to their qualifications to provide a 'safety net' for those students who narrowly miss a pass on one or more externally-assessed units. See further information here
- Functional skills reform is on track to deliver a new suite of qualifications for first teaching in September 2019; functional skills will have a level of regulatory oversight that it's not had before. The timescale is very tight to allow development by awarding organisations and to give schools and colleges time to prepare and familiarise themselves ready for first teaching
- Centre controls were discussed because there is variation between awarding organisations in terms of the way centre controls are used and delegated to centres. These include centre approval, centre agreements, moderation, EQA visits and managing conflicts of interests. Awarding organisations must ensure centre controls are robust and effective, and they must manage any risk effectively to ensure the qualifications they award are valid and reliable
- Ofqual is reviewing applied general qualifications in terms of assessment quality and demand.
Extension of grounds for appeal
The latest information on this is available on Ofqual's website.
If a school or college remains concerned about an outcome following a review, it can appeal to the exam board. Appeals can be on the following grounds:
- An exam board did not apply its procedures consistently, or procedures were not followed properly and fairly
- In AS and A levels (as well as project qualifications), but not GCSEs, there was an error in the original marking or moderation, or in the review of that marking or moderation - ie an administrative error (such as adding up marks incorrectly) had not been corrected, the mark scheme was not properly applied or the mark could not have been given by a trained marker who had the appropriate subject knowledge and exercised their academic judgement in a reasonable way.
This second ground for appeal is new for 2017, and it will be rolled out to GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths in 2018 and all other GCSEs in 2019.
National Reference Test
Developed by NFER, the national reference test will provide information on changes in performance standards over time. Ofqual has created a useful overview of the test, which includes example questions as well as an infographic that briefly outlines how the NRT works. See more information here.
9 to 1 news
This newsletter provides updates on the new 9 to 1 GCSEs. This issue includes information on teachers' views on the GCSE maths tiering, information on the new French, German and Spanish GCSEs, and some guidance on the new 9 to 1 grading system, which can be shared with parents. Read the full newsletter here.
You can find further information about the new GCSE 9 to 1 grading system on Ofqual's website here.
The latest release includes information on Ofqual's computer science consultation, teachers' involvement in exam development and the accreditation process. Read the full newsletter.
Ofqual produces regular blogs that provide more detailed information on some of the current key topics. New releases include teachers' views on GCSE maths tier entries in 2018, the new GCSEs in French, German and Spanish, and GCSE grade boundaries in 2018.
On 8 January 2018, Ofqual announced the non-exam assessment for GCSE computer science will not count to the final 9 to 1 grade in GCSE computer science in 2018 or 2019; it has now confirmed the revised assessment arrangements will continue for the 2020 exam series (20 April 2018). See more information here.
Ofqual: call for evidence on teachers' involvement in developing exam papers
Ofqual has announced its decision on teacher involvement in the development of confidential assessment materials. You can access the full information here.
Call for evidence on assessment of VTQ qualifications in centres
Ofqual has launched a call for evidence on the assessment of vocational and technical qualifications in schools, colleges, training providers, etc. Find out more here.
Latest research and data from Ofqual
Find summaries of the latest research and data from Ofqual.