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Coronavirus and summer 2020 exams: general qualifications updates

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There is no easy or perfect solution when it comes to awarding grades in the absence of exams this year. What we have to do is find a solution that is best for this group of pupils and gives them the qualifications that they have worked so hard for. NAHT continues to work with the Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual on the details of how this will work and make sure concerns are raised and dealt with to the best of everyone's ability.

New Ofqual consultation on 2021 exams and assessments

Today (2nd July) Ofqual have published a consultation containing proposals to support students taking GCSEs, AS and A Levels in 2021. The consultation covers

  • Adaptions in a number of subjects to free up teaching time
  • Adaptions to allow for future public health safeguards
  • Sampling of subject content in questions paper and increasing the use of optional questions
  • Changes to exam tables, in particular whether GCSE exams could start on 7th June 2021 and whether a similar delay is appropriate for AS/A levels.

NAHT will be responding on behalf of members.  But we also encourage members to respond if they have time and capacity. Due to the exceptional circumstances, the consultation is only running for two weeks and closes at 11:45 pm on 16th July 2020.  

The consultation document can be found here alongside further information here.

Ofqual publishes consultation decision on autumn exam series 2020

Today (30 June 2020) Ofqual has published a statement, analysis and decision in response to its consultation on an additional GCSE, AS and A level exam series in autumn 2020 in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Some of the key decisions on the autumn series include:

  • A full suite of exams will be offered, with the same number and format of exams as in any normal series.
  • Entries are open to those who were entered or would have been entered for exams in summer 2020
  • Ofqual will we will confirm the exact timing of the exams in due course aiming for A levels to take place in October and GCSEs in November
  • Reviews of marking will be available as normal for this series
  • Non-exam assessments (NEAs) will not be included in the grades achieved during the autumn exams, with exception of Art and Design which is entirely assessed by NEA.
  • Ofqual recognised the additional burdens and costs for schools and colleges of delivering an autumn series.

Ofqual writes to heads of centre with an overview of awarding arrangements for summer 2020 

Ofqual has written to heads of centres to outline the arrangements for awarding grades for general qualifications in summer 2020. You can find the letter here.

Ofqual publishes consultation decision on awarding grades in summer 2020

Today (22 May 2020) Ofqual has published a statementanalysis and decisions in response to its consultation on exceptional arrangements for awarding GCSEs, AS and A levels. It has also published an infographic on the process for awarding GCSEs, AS and A levels summer 2020 and updated its information for students and schools and colleges films.

In light of these decisions, it has updated the following documents:

Some of the key decisions include:

  • The confirmation that centres must submit their centre assessment grades and rank order between 1 and 12 June 2020.
  • Pupils entered for exams in year 10 and below will now be eligible to receive calculated grades this summer.
  • For private candidates, Ofqual has decided that calculated grades can only be provided for private candidates where a head of centre can provide a centre assessment grade and rank order position for that candidate. 
  • Ofqual has confirmed that a single rank order for the tiered subject must be submitted. Centres should combine foundation and higher tier students at grades 3, 4 and 5 and put them in a single rank order. Within the rank order, they must ensure that the centre assessment grade is appropriate for the tier for which the student is entered. 
  • "Inappropriate disclosure" of centre assessment grades and rank order information will be investigated by exam boards as potential malpractice. 

In relation to standardisation across centres:

  • The trajectory of centres' results will not be included in the statistical standardisation process.
  • Where it will increase the likelihood of students getting the grades they would have achieved, greater emphasis will be placed on the historical evidence of centre performance as compared to the submitted centre assessment grades.
  • Individual rank orders provided by centres should not be modified to account for potential bias. Ofqual will consider potential issues of bias when finalising their statistical standardisation model.

On appeals:

  • Students will not be able to appeal their centre assessment grade or rank order, nor will they be able to appeal against the process used by a centre.
  • A student will be able to raise a complaint to their centre or exam board if they have evidence of bias of discrimination.
  • Centres will be able to appeal to an exam board on the grounds that the wrong data was used to calculate a grade or the grade was incorrectly communicated.
  • Centres can appeal when they can evidence significant demographic changes in its cohort

For NAHT's detailed guidance on awarding grades for general qualifications in Summer 2020 please click here.

New Ofqual guidance for schools/centres on objectivity in grading and ranking 

Today (15 May 2020) Ofqual has published new guidance for heads of centre, heads of department and teachers on objectivity in grading and ranking when awarding grades in summer 2020. The guidance can be found here. Ofqual has also published an accompanying blog for schools and colleges on making grades as fair as they can be.

New Ofqual guidance on awarding grades to private candidates this summer

Yesterday (30 April 2020), Ofqual published new guidance on the issue of awarding grades to private candidates this summer. This is in response to further guidance from exam boards to support heads of centre make judgements about private candidates, including what alternative sources of evidence can be sought. The guidance can be found here.  

Information is being sent regularly from awarding organisations, and we would advise members to ensure you have provided them with up-to-date contact details, including an email that is accessible at home as well as at school.

The following awarding bodies are also updating their websites with information and guidance:




Last updated 02 July 2020