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Updates from Pearson on GCSEs, resits, BTEC Nationals and the value of AS levels

First awards of the 9-1 GCSEs, communications and information on this summer's awards of general qualifications

  • Pearson is keeping its website updated with the latest information on 9-1
  • Working with Ofqual and other awarding organisations (AOs) to share information and ensure clarity in a system where there is a huge amount of complexity and change
  • Post results services will be different across all AOs this year; Pearson offers free access to all exam scripts via an online portal, the exception will be where a script hasn't been able to scan, but these will still be free of charge to access
  • Maths GCSE – entries to foundation tier have increased leading to concerns over post-16 take up for maths if numbers of higher grades fall. 

Resit opportunities for legacy GCSEs and A levels

  • Pearson will only be offering resits of legacy GCSEs in English, maths and science (the minimum requirement following Ofqual's consultation)
  • Pearson has published legacy resits – Frequently Asked Questions document to support centres in making decisions around legacy GCSE and GCE resits. 

First awards of the revised BTEC National

  • External assessment is completely new, and there is a mandatory element to passing this – this is causing some concerns in centres particularly in terms of retake opportunities which would be next academic year and so could have a real impact on student progression
  • Results are likely to look different this year
  • Awarding – concerns regarding fairness to this year's cohort who are taking different and more challenging qualifications; do need to minimise the impact of these changes so students are not disadvantaged
  • Pearson will be inviting organisations to observe awarding of these as well as general qualifications to ensure visibility and transparency
  • Pearson is engaging with HE institutions – explaining the changes, providing information and encouraging them to reflect on their entry requirements in light of the new qualifications.

JCQ guidance on social media and plagiarism

  • JCQ is trying to support centres to avoid malpractice
  • JCQ guidance on students use of social media during exam period – guidance aimed at students alerting them to potential pitfalls of using social media throughout that period; particularly with assessments taking place in a "window" because some content could be shared with students due to take it later in the window; also sharing secure exam materials prior to an exam which can undermine the integrity of an exam
  • NAHT raised the issue of students with timetable variations, highlighting this situation specifically. We also raised the importance of supporting schools with information/guidance aimed at parents about these issues which schools could share. 

Exploring the value of AS levels in the curriculum

  • A broad discussion took place regarding concerns over the impact of the decoupling of AS and A levels. The key points raised included: issues of funding (including retention rates if enrolled on two-year A level course), co-teachability, loss of breadth, students not seeing the point, EPQ grown and worth more UCAS points than an AS, students who decide A levels are not for them at 17 will leave to change course/start a vocational qualification but have nothing to show for their studies at Year 12, impact on school's curriculum offer, impact on student numbers if they are offering fewer subjects, lack of opportunity for students to choose four and then be able to continue with what they love/enjoy/are good at – starting with three they could end up having chosen wrong ones and have no option to change course, concerns over motivation and mental health of students
  • The general feeling from organisations represented is that "decoupling" was not a good policy decision for students, teachers, schools and colleges
  • AS traditionally been of value for entry to HE, for those students who didn't do so well at GCSE, to give a sense of progress being made by students in Year 12 to inform teaching and learning in Year 13
  • HE can't now require AS for entry – this has become an equalities issue because many students won't have had the opportunity to do an AS.
16/05/2017