Ofqual has today launched a new consultation on assessing GCSEs, AS and A Levels in 2021. The Secretary of State has written to Ofqual asking the regulator to look at content sampling in question papers and increasing the use of optional questions.
Here’s our summary of Ofqual’s key consultation proposals for exams and assessments in 2021 to ensure ‘they are as fair as possible and support the well-being of students’:
We encourage people to take part in the consultation which is open until Thursday 16 July, with final decisions to be announced in August.
In addition, Ofqual has today set out guiding principles to mitigate the impact of lost teaching time for vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs). Appropriate arrangements will need to be put in place and these will need to take into account the complex VTQ landscape and different ways the qualifications are used.
We’re working on what these consultation proposals and principles could mean for teachers and how we can support you on return to schools in the autumn.
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30 June 2020 update
The exam series this autumn will offer the full suite of GCSE, AS and A Level exams, the regulator Ofqual confirmed today. Decisions about the exam series have been confirmed as follows:
The exact timing of exams is yet to be confirmed but the aim remains for AS and A Level exams to be held in October and GCSEs in November.
Exams this autumn provide an opportunity for students, such as private candidates, who were unable to receive a calculated grade this summer and for others seeking to improve their grade. The autumn series will be limited to students who had been entered for exams this summer, as well as to students who the exam board believes had intended to enter for those exams. Students who would normally be entitled to take GCSEs in English language and maths in November will also be able to take exams in those subjects.
Ofqual has today said more about how appeals will work this summer, and issued draft new statutory guidance for exam boards on which it is consulting.
Ofqual has repeated the information it confirmed in its consultation outcomes on 22 May about the grounds for a school or college to appeal this summer. These are:
Today’s communication also repeats Ofqual’s consultation decision that on balance it would not be in the interests of students or the fairness of the arrangements overall if students could challenge their centre assessment grades or rank order position. There may be ‘rare cases’ where a student considers centre assessment grades or rank order information was demonstrably affected by bias. Students should raise these concerns with the centre in the first instance. Where there is evidence of serious malpractice on the part of the centre, it may be appropriate to bring those concerns directly to exam boards for investigation as potential malpractice
Ofqual has also reported back on further work it has done on whether to allow schools and colleges to appeal on the basis of a significant change in the demographic makeup of its 2020 cohort in a subject. The regulator proposes there will be no new grounds for appeal on this basis. There is already a limited route for exceptional cases to be considered which would be very rare given the degree of change required to affect final results. This decision, as well as technical requirements for exam boards delivering appeals, is part of draft new statutory guidance published today. Ofqual’s technical consultation on this guidance is open for comment and closes on 14 July.
22 May 2020 update
Ofqual had already announced earlier in May that Year 10s and below could receive results this summer and provided further details on options for private candidates to receive calculated grades. Today, Ofqual confirmed that:
Students will be awarded calculated grades this summer in GCSEs, AS and A Level, and in Extended Project Qualifications, based on the submission of centre assessment grades and rank orders. There was also confirmation about the process for head of centre sign off (including an update to the declaration) and that inappropriate disclosure of centre assessment grades will be malpractice.
Linked to the GCSE/A Level consultation, Ofqual has launched a separate consultation on the additional autumn series.
The consultation on the autumn series launched today will cover GCSEs, AS and A Levels. The series designed to provide an opportunity for students unable to receive a calculated grade, for example private candidates, and others who would like the opportunity to improve their grade, to take an exam.
Here are the key proposals:
This consultation closes on 8 June 2020 and we encourage you to take part.
Ofqual today confirmed that different approaches will apply to cater for the different categories of vocational and technical qualifications, depending on whether they are for progression to HE or FE, for occupational competence, or for a mixed purpose. The decision about the approach will be made by each exam board based on the qualification’s principal purpose and the approach most appropriate to deliver a valid result. This has guided our approach to the processes we have already communicated on Cambridge Nationals, Cambridge Technicals, CPC and Functional Skills.
Autumn assessment opportunity: where awarding organisations normally offer an autumn assessment opportunity, they must take all reasonable steps to do so. Where they do not, they should do so where there are enough learners who need to take an assessment or where it would be unfair not to.
New interactive tool – Ofqual has launched a new tool to help users to search for a specific regulated qualification and find out how results will be generated for the majority of learners.
Ofqual will publish further guidance on malpractice, appeals and equalities to support exam boards.
20 May 2020 update
To help students taking Level 2 and Level 3 Cambridge Technicals (2012 and 2016 suites) to progress to the next stage of their education, here’s the process you’ll need to follow.
We will take your professional judgement of the grade your students would have most likely achieved for each unit, and their place within the rank order for that unit, and we will then calculate your student’s final qualification grade.
We are asking for centre assessment grades and rank orders for each unit so the results we give to students reflect the unitised and flexible nature of Cambridge Technicals. This enables us to award post 16 learners with a calculated result for each of the units they take, which will best support their different progression pathways and enable them to continue their modular programmes as normal. Year 12 learners who have claimed a smaller qualification this summer will be able to progress with the security of what they have achieved this year.
The process this summer applies to any students who were due to complete or to resit their Cambridge Technicals qualification between March and the end of July. You will need to provide us with:
To give your students a result, you also need to let us know which students you intend to claim qualification results for by 22 May. This means confirming which students were due to complete this summer and the units they intended to use from the longer list we provided of all your students who originally registered with us since September 2018. We sent this intention to claim request to your exams officer last week. We will use the information you provide on the intention to claim form to pre-populate our web-based grade submission system where you will submit your data next month.
The window for you to submit your centre assessment grades and rank orders per unit to us opens on 8 June and will run for 3 weeks. The deadline for you to submit information is 26 June. This timeline for submitting your information starts one week later than for GCSEs and A Levels and for our Cambridge Nationals.
You won’t be asked to provide centre assessment grades or rank orders per unit for Year 12 students who are completing only units this summer and are not expecting an overall qualification until next year. We will be able to provide an assessed grade for these students based on the units completed at the point they are due to finish their overall qualification.
We will combine your centre assessment grades and rank orders per unit, with evidence such as previously completed units awarded by OCR, and relevant information such as centre performance history, to determine a calculated result for the overall qualification, as well as for each unit. This process is subject to the outcome of our regulator’s consultation on vocational and technical qualifications which is due later in May.
To help answer your detailed questions about Cambridge Technicals, please take a look at our FAQs. We’ve also produced guidance for teachers and heads of department on how to decide the centre assessment grade, the range of evidence you can look at and how to place your students within a rank order.
If you would like to get in touch, please call us on 01223 553998 or email us at email@example.com.
15 May 2020 update
To give your students the results they need to progress to the next steps in their education, the process for Cambridge Nationals this summer will be similar to GCSEs and A Levels.
We will take your professional judgement of the grades your students would most likely have achieved if they had been able to complete all their assessments this summer, and their place within a rank order, to determine a calculated result.
For your students who were due to complete their Cambridge Nationals qualification this summer, you will need to provide us with:
Take a look at our guidance for teachers and Heads of Department on how to decide the centre assessment grade, the range of evidence you can look at and how to place your students within a rank order.
You won’t need to provide us with any centre assessment grades or rank orders at unit level.
Most students due to complete their Cambridge Nationals qualification this summer will be in Year 11. However, Year 10 students (or below) who were due to complete the full qualification and certify early this summer, can also be included in the centre assessment grade and rank order process.
You will have a two week window from 1 June until 12 June 2020 to submit your centre assessment grades and rank orders for Cambridge Nationals qualifications. The deadline for submitting this information to us is 12 June 2020.
We will combine your centre assessment grades and rank orders, with evidence such as any previously completed units that we have awarded, and other relevant information such as centre performance history, to determine a calculated result for the qualification. This process is still subject to the outcome of our regulator’s consultation on vocational and technical qualifications which is due in late May.
To help answer your detailed questions about Cambridge Nationals, please take a look at our FAQs. If you would like to get in touch, please call us on 01223 553998 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 May 2020 update
Following an update from Ofqual today, we’re pleased to confirm that Year 10 students (and below) can be issued with results this summer.
The regulator has confirmed that schools and colleges will be allowed to generate centre assessment grades for their Year 10 and younger students who had been entered for GCSE, AS or A Level exams this summer. They should be included in the overall rank order for each grade within each subject. Today’s announcement is an early decision from the recent consultation and gives clarity for schools and colleges during the window for changing entries.
We’re also pleased to confirm that Year 10 students (and below) taking Cambridge Nationals who were due to certify this summer can also get results if centres submit their grades and include them in their rank orders. This requires entries for both the units and for the overall qualification.
Our window for changing GCSE, AS, A Level and Cambridge National entries is open and runs until 15 May. If schools and colleges had previously withdrawn their Year 10 and below entries for this summer and now wish to reinstate them, they can make new entries for these students free of charges. These entries can also be withdrawn if it’s not in the best interests of students. There's more detailed information about entry changes here.
1 May 2020 update
An update from JCQ outlines further options on helping private candidates, and other students with whom you have a different relationship from your main cohort, to get results this summer. Here’s a summary:
If your school or college has access to the range of evidence needed to generate a centre assessment grade for a GCSE, AS or A Level student who is a private candidate, and to include them in a rank order, you will be able to submit the information we need about them so they can be issued with a result this summer.
We know that centres may not have access to the range of evidence needed to generate centre assessment grades and rank orders for private candidates. Heads of Centre can only submit this information if they have seen sufficient evidence of a student’s achievement to make an objective judgement. This could include sharing information between centres. If a Head of Centre is not confident they can reach a judgement about a particular student, this should be communicated to the student as early as possible.
There’s information about alternative sources of evidence that you can consider to reach a judgement and they are rated according to levels of confidence.
If a private candidate has moved from one ‘exam centre’ to another part way through their studies, there may be an opportunity for them to switch or transfer back. Your current Head of Centre needs to consult with the previous centre about the evidence they hold. If it’s more appropriate for the original centre to submit the centre assessment grade and position in the centre’s rank order, the current entry should be withdrawn. The original centre needs to make a new entry for the student. This should be done with the agreement of all parties.
The update also includes guidance for centres, those with experience in distance learning for example, who may consider accepting private candidates with whom they have no previous relationship but whose original centre has confirmed they are unable to include them in their submission of data. This process may be an option for students who would otherwise be disadvantaged if they were not awarded a grade this summer because it would prevent them from progressing into the next stage of their studies or into employment.
To accept an entry transfer for a new student with whom a centre has no prior relationship needs exam board permission and will require centres to submit details of the process of validation they intend to employ. A new centre will have to do a validation exercise about the evidence, which could include remote sessions with the student. It also involves additional sign off and will be subject to additional monitoring by exam boards.
If a centre is not able to generate a centre assessment grade and rank order for a private candidate, students may consider taking exams in autumn or in summer 2021.
24 April 2020 update
To help you and your vocational learners get the grades they deserve, we’re committed to supporting you with all the information we can. Here’s our guide to the latest proposals from our regulator.
Ofqual has today launched a consultation seeking views on details of the arrangements for assessing and grading vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs), and other general qualifications, this summer. This follows guidance they issued on 9 April. The consultation will last for two weeks, ending on 8 May.
In the VTQ consultation, Ofqual describes a ‘complex landscape’ of learners, qualifications and awarding organisations, and it proposes an approach which balances delegation, flexibility and consistency.
VTQs, and some general qualifications such as Core Maths and Free Standing Maths Qualifications, are put in three categories: for progression to HE/FE (such as Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals); for professional competence (such as our Certificate in Professional Competence for Transport Managers in Road Haulage and Passenger Transport – CPC); and for mixed purpose (such as Functional Skills).
For qualifications that support progression to further or higher education (such as Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals), the consultation proposes a ‘framework’ based on five key principles rather than the ‘detailed and prescriptive’ process set out for GCSEs and A Levels. This would apply to spring and summer 2020 assessments. The aim is for as many students as possible to get calculated results this summer and the consultation sets out a proposal for the ‘most trusted’ evidence that will be required for that.
For other qualifications, Ofqual proposes awarding organisations consider the best approach to managing the impact of the situation on learners. Where calculated results won’t be possible for VTQs, the consultation proposes adapting or delaying assessments, with delay as a last resort. For Functional Skills, Ofqual proposes that adapted assessments may be offered, if it’s not possible for a learner to receive a calculated result this summer.
In order to allow as many learners’ results as possible to be delivered this summer, Ofqual also proposes that approaches can be taken which are not allowed in ordinary circumstances. Learners’ results should be available on published timelines. The regulator is also seeking views on an autumn 2020 assessment opportunity and proposes that awarding bodies that normally provide an assessment opportunity between September and December do so. Ofqual is also consulting on an appeals process for VTQs to promote consistency in approach across awarding bodies.
If you want to give your views on this consultation, you can do it here. We’ll continue to share more details so your learners can progress as smoothly as possible to the next stage.
15 April 2020 update
We’re here to help students to progress with grades they can be proud of, despite these very challenging times. Ofqual has today (15 April) published a consultation seeking views on some of the detailed planning that is in progress to ensure the grades students get this summer will be fair.
We’ve produced a quick summary of Ofqual’s consultation proposals below.
We know that teachers and students are also keen to know more about our plans for the autumn series, and a separate consultation will be published by Ofqual soon covering this important aspect of our planning.
Ofqual’s consultation closes on Wednesday 29 April 2020.
9 April 2020 update
We’re pleased to be able to share what Ofqual has said today about awarding grades for vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) this summer. This includes some of our most popular qualifications, our Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals. We can confirm that the process for Nationals and Technicals will use calculated grades and available data, which is the same as for GCSEs and A Levels, to give learners their final results this summer. The key thing is that learners can progress to the next stage with the qualifications they deserve. Here’s our summary of the key points:
We’d like to thank you for your patience while plans for these, and our other qualifications, are finalised with other boards and our regulator. As VTQs come in many shapes and sizes, the process for awarding grades may be slightly different across qualifications. VTQs are just as high priority as GCSEs and A Levels, but developing the arrangements takes a little longer as there are many different types of VTQs, with different purposes and assessment approaches, and many awarding organisations involved. Thank you for bearing with us while we get you the answers you need so your learners can progress this summer.
3 April 2020 update
We’re here to help students to progress with grades they can be proud of, despite these very challenging times. To support student progression, we’ll be using a process set out by our regulator Ofqual today.
We’re pleased that the professional judgement of teachers is at the heart of this. We’ll then build on what teachers give us by standardising grades across all schools and colleges. This means the grades students get this summer will be fair and of equal status to students’ grades in other years.
We’ve made a quick summary of what Ofqual has said below. For further details, take a look at the dedicated support section where we have lots more guidance and FAQs for you.
To give students GCSE, AS Level, A Level and Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) grades this summer, schools and colleges will need to give us two pieces of information:
We know that many of you will still have questions that need answering about grades this summer. This is particularly so for vocational qualifications, and we’d like to thank you for your enormous patience at this anxious time. We continue to work closely with other exam boards, our regulator and the DfE so you can have clarity. We’ll be in touch with more details about vocational qualifications, and other qualifications not covered in this latest guidance, as soon as we can be. Above all, we’re focused on giving fair grades to all students and helping them progress onto college, university or into employment.
26 March 2020 update
From our Chief Executive Jill Duffy:
The last few weeks have been unsettling and hard for teachers and for students who will be anxious about the cancellation of exams this summer. Our priority is supporting you and supporting your students to progress.
On Friday 20 March, the government provided more guidance on how grades would be calculated. We’ve summarised this advice below. We know you have questions that still need answering and we are working closely with our regulator Ofqual and with the DfE to get answers for you. We’ll share these with you as soon as we can so you have more clarity.
The principle we will follow is that students get grades that fairly reflect the work they have put in. This must apply consistently to every qualification, from GCSEs and A Levels to our vocational qualifications, which include Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals.
To support you in the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing further updates from Ofqual and the DfE as soon as we get them. We’ll also be sending you a weekly roundup of news so you won’t miss anything. We’re also expanding the ‘coronavirus advice’ section on our website with fresh information whenever we can and with relevant resources, including a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page, which we will keep updated.
We know this is a difficult time for schools and colleges to operate and we want to make sure our communications with you are as open and clear as possible, particularly when important updates are coming out. If you haven’t already provided us with an email that is accessible at home as well as at school, please do so here.
Above all, we’d like to say thanks for your flexibility and patience at this uncertain time. We’ll be with you in the weeks and months ahead, so all your hard work is recognised and your students can progress with the qualifications they deserve.
20 March 2020 update
We’re committed to supporting schools and colleges and students through this challenging time. As you know, exams this summer have been cancelled due to coronavirus. Our aim is to help all students to progress.
Today, we’ve heard more from the DfE. We know it’s a busy day so we’ve summarised the key details for you here:
We know that this is an unsettling time for students and teachers and we want to assure you that we will do everything we can to provide the information you need about our approach and the actions you need to take over the coming weeks and months. We look forward to providing you with regular updates on our website.
18 March 2020 update
The Department for Education has today made an important announcement confirming 'no secondary exams this summer'. Our regulator, Ofqual, has also provided a statement. We're working hard to provide you with more details as soon as possible and we're committed to supporting students to progress to the next stage of their lives.
6 March 2020 update
We are working closely with the other major exam boards, our regulator Ofqual and with the DfE, to monitor the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. We regularly review risks to the smooth running of exams and this includes the potential impact of coronavirus on those taking and administering exams. Ofqual's current advice is that “Our advice at this time is to continue to prepare for exams and other assessments as normal.”.
Information about contingency planning is available here. More detailed advice for schools and colleges on coronavirus is also available from Public Health England.
This is a fast-moving issue and we will share updated guidance with you.