How the proposed arrangements for 2021 differ from those used in a normal year and those used in 2020. The information below is taken from the government website.
The consultation is now closed and we are waiting for confirmation of the arrangements, particularly the arrangements for students taking home / heritage languages outside their mainstream schools.
Students who had been expecting to take exams will wish to understand how our proposed approach will be different to that of a normal year. The table below summarises the normal arrangements and the proposed alternative arrangements for 2021.
|Aspect||Normal year||Proposed approach for 2021||Comments|
|Exams||Students take ‘unseen exams’ – neither they nor their teachers know beforehand the topics to be covered by the questions. All students take the same exam papers. The exams are taken under tightly controlled conditions. The exams are marked by the exam boards.||There will be no exams (except perhaps in the case of private candidates).||The experience should be less daunting for students. The exact arrangements will be decided following the consultation and will have to take account of any public health restrictions in place at the time.|
|Non-exam assessment||Non-exam assessments are used in some subjects. They are usually marked by teachers and the marking is moderated by the exam boards. The relative weighting of the exam(s) and non-exam assessment is prescribed.||We propose that non-exam assessment is completed where possible, although the conditions under which they are taken might have to be relaxed. We propose that the exam boards do not moderate teacher marking. Teachers should be able to reduce the normal weight given to non-exam assessment, if a student has had difficulties completing it.||In some subjects non-exam assessments do not require any specialist equipment and can be undertaken when students are not in school or college. Non-exam assessments will be more difficult to complete in other subjects.|
|Evidence of a student’s performance||The only evidence taken into account when a student’s grade is set is their performance in their exams and non-exam assessments.||We propose that teachers will be able to take into account other evidence of a student’s performance. We propose the exam boards should provide guidance on the relative weighting of the different forms of evidence. This may include the use of papers set by the exam boards, evidence from non-exam assessment or other performance evidence. It may also include student performance in papers prepared by teachers.||The proposals will allow teachers to make a holistic, evidence-based assessment of the grade each student should receive.|
|Appeals||Schools and colleges can ask for the marking of an exam to be reviewed, after results have been issued. Students can ask their school or college to review a teacher’s marking of their non-exam assessment before the mark is submitted for moderation.||We propose that students should be able to appeal on the ground that the grade is not supported by the evidence of their performance or followed the correct approach. We are looking at the timing of results day to increase the time available for the appeals process.||If this proposal is taken forward it will allow a number of appeals to be resolved before results are issued.|
|Setting standards||The exam boards set grade boundaries. In this way they maintain standards year on year, between schools and colleges and between exam boards.||As exams have been cancelled, exam boards will not be able to set grade boundaries. Teachers will instead submit to the exam board the grade they think a student’s performance deserves based on the standard of the student’s work, and in line with the training and guidance provided for assessment.||Standards will be protected to a degree if teachers take evidence-based decisions in line with the exam boards’ requirements. The usual assurances of comparability between years, between individual students, between schools and colleges and between exam boards will not be possible.|
This is the second year in which the government has taken the difficult decision that, because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, GCSE, AS and A level exams cannot take place fairly.
The timing of the decision and the context in which it was taken are different this year. Our proposed approach to awarding grades in 2021 is also different, taking into account the current context and the lessons learned from 2020.