Since GCSE, AS and A Level exams were cancelled in January, teachers and students have been waiting to hear how grades would be awarded this summer. The DfE and Ofqual have now announced how GCSE, AS and A Level students will get results. This applies to students taking Extended Project Qualifications as well. You can find consultation decisions about Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals here.
We want to enable your students to progress with results that are as fair as possible. We’re committed to working collaboratively with schools and colleges and providing the detailed support and guidance you need so the process of determining student grades is clear and is manageable alongside your teaching. Please read our ‘next steps’ section below for details about how we will be supporting you throughout the weeks and months ahead.
We know you’re busy so we’ve highlighted the key consultation outcomes that were announced:
Teachers must assess their students’ performance, only on what content has been delivered to them by their teachers, to determine the grade each student should receive.
Teachers should make a holistic judgement of each student’s performance on a range of evidence relating to the subject content that has been delivered by their teacher (either in the classroom or via remote learning).
Centres will also be encouraged to consider the grades for this year’s cohort compared to cohorts from previous years when exams have taken place, to make sure they have not been overly lenient or harsh in their assessment of the 2021 cohort.
Overall, it will be no easier or harder for a student to achieve a particular grade this year compared to previous years.
Schools and colleges should use a broad range of evidence across the taught content to determine grades before submitting them to the exam boards.
Teachers can use evidence of a student’s performance from throughout the course to inform their judgement.
Teachers should determine the grades as late in the academic year as is practicable, and not confined to a defined window, to enable teaching to continue for as long as possible.
Exam boards will provide a package of support materials to include questions, mark schemes, data about how students typically performed and exemplar materials, as well as advice for teachers about content coverage, topic selection, marking and making grading judgements. This will be based on past papers previously published and material currently only available to schools and colleges.
Use of our support materials is not compulsory, they will be part of the range of evidence teachers could use to determine the grade.
Students should continue to work on their NEA, including for Project qualifications. NEA will be marked by teachers and will contribute to the overall grade, whether or not it has been completed.
Exam boards are not required to moderate NEA.
Teachers will submit grades to exam boards by 18 June.
Exam boards will work together to ensure that requirements for internal quality assurance (QA) and arrangements for external QA are consistent.
Centres’ internal QA arrangements will need to include consideration of the centre’s profile of results in previous years as a guide to help them to check that their judgements are not unduly harsh or lenient.
The head of every centre must submit a declaration, to confirm that internal QA has taken place.
We will put in place arrangements for external QA to check each centre’s internal QA process and, in a sample of centres, to review the evidence for one or more subjects. Sampling will be both random, and risk-based. We will process the grades submitted by centres only after completing, and being satisfied with, any external QA.
We will require centres to submit a declaration by the head of centre, confirming that the requirements for internal quality assurance have been met.
Results days will be:
AS and A Level results day: 10 August
GCSE results day: 12 August
Students will be able to appeal their grade.
A student who is unhappy with their grade will first ask their centre to check whether an administrative or procedural error had been made.
Where a centre does identify an error in the grade submitted to the exam board, it can submit a revised grade and a rationale for the board to consider. If the exam board is satisfied with the rationale, it will issue a revised grade.
Where a centre does not believe an error had been made, a student can ask the centre to appeal to the exam board on their behalf. The centre will submit the student’s appeal to the exam board and provide the evidence on which its judgement had been made; the exam board will consider whether, in its view, the grade reflected an appropriate exercise of academic judgement. If the exam board judges that it did not, the exam board will determine the grade that the evidence would support. The exam board will also check that the centre had followed its own process.
A student’s grade could go up or down following an appeal.
Private candidates should be assessed in a similar way to other students, by a recognised exam centre using a range of evidence. This evidence could include taking the exam board provided assessment materials in a suitable form. Centres will be asked to assess candidates based on what they have studied, and be allowed to conduct assessment remotely.
Centres will be supported by guidance to determine the evidence on which grades for private candidates will be based, taking into account their different circumstances.
Students will have the opportunity to sit an exam if they wish to improve their teacher assessed grade.
Ofqual will consult on whether to regulate for an autumn exam series to be held and whether it should be open to all students who were expecting to take exams this summer.
We know you will have many questions about what has been announced and we won’t have all the answers yet. However, we are committed to supporting you with guidance and to answer your questions as soon as we can. We are here to support you and to help your students to progress with results that are as fair as possible this summer. Our basic timeline outlines the key stages ahead for you.
We will give you clear guidance and support on how to use and mark evidence including the optional assessment materials we provide, how to determine your students’ grades and how to build your internal quality assurance processes, by the end of March. We will also provide guidance on our external quality assurance checks, how to submit grades to us and how appeals work this summer as soon as possible. Please look out for a further update on the guidance and support that we will publish on 5 March.
We will provide more detailed information and regular updates for you throughout the coming days and weeks via our support hub, our ever-expanding list of FAQs, via online webinars and support events, via social media and through our regular weekly emails. So please sign up to receive our weekly email updates if you haven’t already. And while we don’t have all the answers yet, our Customer Support Centre is always here to support you on 01223 553998 or firstname.lastname@example.org.