Commenting as NAHT submits its response to Ofqual’s consultation on the awarding of exam grades this year, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“The processes for awarding grades this year following the cancellation of exams must allow schools and colleges to award students the grades they deserve, taking into account all of their individual circumstances. It’s really important that Ofqual do not start introducing too many complex measures that will constrain this and harm students’ wellbeing or learning.
“Schools and colleges must be able to take into account the very different levels of disruption that students have faced this year. There have been, and will continue to be, such varied scenarios and circumstances nationally, locally and at individual centre and student level. Any papers set by exam boards must be optional and have enough flexibility to ensure that students can be assessed on what they have actually learnt and been taught.
“It’s important for young people’s sake that we give them the grades they need to move forward with their next steps, but without taking away from the time we have left for learning. While the importance of maximising learning is recognised by both the DfE and Ofqual, we are concerned that the timescales proposed in this consultation do not support that principle.
“Assessments of students over the coming months, whether teacher designed or externally set, must be spread out over a reasonable period of time. Students must feel they have the time they need to adequately prepare and revise for assessments which they know will contribute as evidence for their final grade. We must not create undue pressure which may have a negative impact on their wellbeing.
“A key question remains as to whether teachers should take into account the context of the student, and any special considerations, when assessing their work and submitting a grade this summer. This might include circumstances related to the pandemic as well as any context which would normally be part of an application for special considerations but there is no mention of this process in the proposals.”
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