Correct as of 27.03.2020
What has the government announced with respect to this summer’s exams?
In their statement on March 18th, the Department for Education confirmed that GCSEs and A Levels "will not go ahead this summer". On 20th March they provided a further statement with clarity on how grades will be awarded and they have published this very useful list of FAQs.
There appear to be two key elements feeding into how grades will be determined:
- Teachers will be asked “to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead.” The teacher’s judgement will be based on “a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment”.
- “The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in.”
These calculated grades are intended to be provided to students before the end of July and there will be an appeal process if students feel they have not got the grade they deserve. “In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once schools are open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.”
Key Points to Consider For Student Preparation
- At this stage it is not clear when teachers will be required to “submit their judgement” and the precise format of the evidence they will be required to use. Whilst there appears to be a low chance that schools will physically reopen at the beginning of the summer term, many schools are already planning to deliver their teaching online, and there is a chance that schools will fully reopen at some point during the summer term. As such, pending further clarity it very much remains possible that student performance could be assessed between now and when teachers “submit their judgement about the grade.”
- UPDATE (23.03.2020): A number of schools we've heard from over the past couple of days have confirmed that their intention is to use work completed over the coming weeks and months as evidence for their grade judgements. They also have confirmed that they hope to be able to undertake a mock exam sitting at some point during the summer term to use as further evidence.
- It is clear that students who are not happy with their grade (aside from the appeal process) will have the option of sitting the exam ‘early in the next academic year’. This appears to be particularly relevant to GCSE students who are proceeding to sixth form and A level students who need to meet certain university grades, and therefore will want to have the opportunity to sit the exam formally in the Autumn. In relation to this the government have confirmed that "While it cannot be guaranteed in every circumstance, Universities UK has assured us that the majority of universities will show the utmost flexibility to ensure that such students who take this option are able to begin their course with a delayed start time."
With this in mind as well as being beneficial on an educational basis, we feel it is prudent (pending further information being released) for students to look to complete their GCSE and A Level studies as best they can in order to:
- be ready for teacher-led assessment (should this arise) during the summer term that could impact on their grades;
- have potential evidence in place for any subsequent appeal they may wish to lodge;
- be ready to formally sit their exams next academic year; and
- be well placed to begin the next phase of their education (either at A Level or University) when things finally return to normal!
What about International exams outside the UK?
The IB, CIE, Edexcel, and AQA have also cancelled their summer 2020 exam series. Further information as to their approach to awarding grades is available on their websites and regularly being updated.
What will happen to university applications?
As stated in the government's statement of March 20, university representatives have confirmed that they expect universities to be flexible and do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to higher education. As per the above the government have confirmed that "While it cannot be guaranteed in every circumstance, Universities UK has assured us that the majority of universities will show the utmost flexibility to ensure that such students who take this option are able to begin their course with a delayed start time."
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