As a result of the disruption to the education of students caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has replaced public exams with a system to determine grades whereby teachers of GCSE and A Level (as well as technical/vocational qualification) must assess their students’ performance, only on what content has been delivered to them, to reach an overall holistic judgement of the grade at which the student is consistently working. Overall, the government’s intention is that it will be no easier or harder for a student to achieve a particular grade this year compared to previous years. The Joint Council for Qualifications, JCQ, released further, detailed guidance for students, parents and schools on how this process should be conducted. The guidance for students and parents can be found via the links and the main points are summarised below:
Students have the opportunity to demonstrate the progress they have made against exam board provided criteria. This will be measured through a series of classroom-based assessments as well as whole cohort assessments. The guidance states that:
‘Grades should be based on a holistic, objective judgement of the evidence of the students’ performance on the subject content they have been taught.’
‘Teachers can take a range of evidence from throughout the course but they should be aware that more recent evidence will be most relevant’.
Therefore, the assessments we have planned will only test students’ knowledge and understanding on content already taught; this may mean that some course content will not be assessed where there have been gaps in the teaching and learning due to school closure and loss of curriculum time during the pandemic. Centres are permitted to draw upon evidence from earlier in the course, but assessment should be based on the grade at which students are consistently working and more recent evidence will be most relevant.
Can work done earlier in the course contribute to the final grade?
Yes. This type of evidence will be included if:
The college judges the evidence to be robust enough and can authenticate the conditions under which the assessment was undertaken and that it is the student’s own work.
The student has special considerations for which there should be reasonable adjustment and this reasonable adjustment has been applied.
Students who are in receipt of agreed access arrangements had these applied during those historical assessments.
In the event that access arrangements were not in place, there are two courses of action that could be taken. The college will consider when determining a grade, either:
i) to use the evidence on the basis that it is the most appropriate evidence available, and that disregarding it would disadvantage the student; or,
ii) to remove that particular assessment from the evidence for the student and obtain alternative evidence.
In all instances, the JCQ has asked schools and colleges to ‘Ensure that the grades represent a holistic judgement. The grading process this year is not intended to be a formulaic calculation, and should account for the context in which each student’s evidence has been produced.’
What if my child has been ill or adversely affected by COVID 19?
Students must be reminded to raise any mitigating circumstances which warrant special consideration. It is important that students raise these issues as soon as possible, ideally at the time of the assessment and prior to the submission of the teacher assessed grade. If students have experiences mitigating circumstances during previous years on the course, they should ensure that their Year Leader is aware of these circumstance so that these can be taken into account.
The JCQ guidance outlines that: ‘The usual process of centres submitting special consideration applications to awarding organisations for qualifications will not apply this summer.’ It is clear that we are being asked to, where possible, select work completed by a student where they were unaffected by adverse circumstances.
How will the school ensure that the Exams Access Arrangements are in place?
Those who have been assessed as requiring exam access arrangements will receive these arrangements for all assessments next half term. Unless their arrangements also include a small or separate room, students requiring additional time for assessments, will be given this in the same room as the timetabled assessment. Students with additional access arrangements, such as a reader, scribe or word processor, will receive these arrangements in an alternative room.
How do students and parents know that the grades awarded are accurate and fair?
Assessments will not necessarily be marked by the student’s own teacher, to limit potential bias; all assessments will undergo a rigorous moderation and standardisation process and may be checked by an external representative from the exam board. We have been instructed by the JCQ to write a Centre Policy which will be submitted to them for external quality assurance. All evidence used to contribute towards grades will be shared with students, although guidance states that we are not permitted to share grades awarded for these assessments prior to results days.
Can students appeal their grades?
Yes, students who consider that an error has been made in determining their grade will have a right to appeal. Full details of the appeals process can be found in the guidance above and will be published to students and parents in advance of the results days in August.
How will students receive their grades?
Teachers cannot discuss grades awarded with students prior to the nationally published results days, which have been brought forward this year. AS and A level students will receive their grades on the 10th August, whilst GCSE students will receive their results on the 12th August. Results will be given out in College where support for next steps will be available. More information about results will be available later in the summer term.
The timelines for priority and non-priority appeals will be as follows
10 August to 7 September: priority appeals window
10 August to 16 August: student requests centre review – Centre reviews which are not submitted by this date may lead to appeals not being completed in them for a higher education place dependent on the outcome of the appeal
10 August to 20 August: centre conducts centre review and reports findings to students and parents
11 August to 23 August: centre submits appeal to exam board if requested
10 August to end October: majority of non-priority appeals take place
10 August to 3 September: student requests centre review
10 August to 10 September: centre conducts centre review and reports findings to students and parents from 6 September
6 September to 17 September: centre submits appeal to exam board if requested