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Exams and assessments 2021: general qualifications updates

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You can read NAHT's responses to Ofqual's consultations on awarding arrangements in light of the coronavirus pandemic here.  

The GCSE, GCE AS and A level June 2021 common timetable has now been confirmed. You can find a news release from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) here

The awarding bodies will now use the finalised JCQ common timetable to produce and publish their GCSE, GCE AS and A level timetables.

Arrangements for awarding qualifications in 2020/21

On 3 December 2020, the government announced a set of measures ahead of next summer's exams.

Ofqual has published Dame Glenys Stacey's response to a letter from the Secretary of State for Education about the arrangements for regulated qualifications in 2021. Today's announcements include Ofqual's decision on the grading of GCSE, AS and A level qualifications, details of adaptations that will be made to exams next summer and confirmation of the Department for Education's package of contingencies to make sure as many students as possible can take exams and assessments and receive a grade. The letter also sets out Ofqual's expectations for vocational and technical qualifications. Ofqual has also published an article setting out the details of the announcement.

The DfE publishes decisions on delays to 2021 summer exams

Today (12 October 2020), the Department for Education (DfE) announced a three-week delay to the summer exam series.

The series will now start on 7 June and end on 2 July for almost all AS/A levels and GCSEs. Results days will now be Tuesday 24 August for A/AS levels and Friday 27 August for GCSEs, so students will start the following academic year as normal.

One maths and one English GCSE exam will be held just before the May half-term, giving any year 11 pupils who are affected by covid-19 the best possible chance of still sitting a paper in each of these core subjects.

The DfE has also confirmed that there will be no further subject-level changes to exams and assessments will be made for GCSEs, AS and A levels. You can find further information here. 

NAHT will continue to engage with the DfE, Ofqual and awarding organisations about the arrangements for awarding qualifications in 2021.

Ofqual publishes its consultation decision on exams and assessments in 2021

On 3 August 2020, Ofqual published a statementanalysis and decision in response to its consultation on proposed changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2021​, in response to the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic.

Some of the key decisions include:

  • Acceptance of almost all GCSE subject-specific proposals in relation to NEAs, fieldwork requirements, spoken language skill assessments and changes to how content is assessed for GCSE geography, history and ancient history
  • New changes to GCSE English literature, to introduce a choice of topics on which students are required to answer questions in their exams. These were not consulted on but introduced in light of the responses received
  • Ofqual will not be requiring exam boards to change the length or format of papers or to build in more question choice within papers
  • No adaptions have been proposed to AS or A levels other than to remove the fieldwork requirement for AS and A level geography, geology and environmental science
  • Ofqual has postponed a decision on the major proposals in relation to moving timetables for GCSEs, AS and A levels. They will confirm their decisions as soon as possible

Last updated 04 December 2020