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GCSE 2021 - Teacher Assessments

18 January 2021

We have been following Ofqual/DfE updates closely on latest developments for GCSE 2021. We will continue to update this string as we hear further.


As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic disruption, the government has said that many exams and assessments cannot be held this year in a way which is fair. Ofqual and the Department for Education consulted on the alternative arrangements for exams and assessments and expressed thanks to all who responded to the consultations. The General Qualifications decisions documents and Vocational and Technical Qualifications decisions documents were published yesterday.


For GCSEs, teachers will assess the standard at which students are performing based only on what they have been taught so that the school can determine their grades. Teachers’ judgements are to be based on a range of evidence relating to the subject content that have been delivered, either in the classroom or via remote learning. Teachers will be able to use evidence about students' performance gathered throughout the GCSE course to inform their judgement. This might include work that they may have already completed, mock exam results, homework, or in-class tests. Teachers may also use questions from exam boards, largely based on past papers, to assess students, but this will not be a compulsory requirement.

The arrangements for this year are designed so that teaching and learning can continue for as long as possible, so teachers’ judgement of the students’ work should be conducted as late in the academic year as practical. DfE and Ofqual have stressed that students must keep engaged in their learning so that the hard work students are putting in, can be considered in award of their grades. Teachers will advise students of which of their work will count towards their grades before the grades are submitted to exam boards.

DfE/Ofqual will not set any requirements about the minimum amount of content that should be taught or assessed but will ask the Head of the school to confirm that students have been taught enough content so they can progress to the next stage of their education. Teachers will mark the NEA (non-exam assessments) and it will contribute to overall grades, whether it has been completed or not.

Exam boards will provide a package of (non-compulsory use) support materials to schools, including questions and mark schemes, based on past exam papers. They will also provide advice to teachers about choosing topics, marking, and making grading judgements. These support materials will be made available shortly.

Exam boards will put in place quality assurance arrangements to make sure consistent judgements are made and the school Head teacher will sign off all grades. Exam boards are expected to release GCSE results on 12 August. A student unhappy with their grade would submit an appeal to the school so that they could check whether an administrative error had been made. If a centre does find an error in the grade submitted, it can submit a revised grade for the board to consider. If a centre does not believe an error had been made, the centre will appeal to the exam board on the student’s behalf, and will be supported to do so.

We appreciate that this is a stressful time for everyone. With the above decisions, we are hoping this will calm students’ nerves and re-assure them that they are being provided holistic support from the school. 
Some useful links are available below for parents'/students' reference.





In further recent developments, the Education Secretary has indicated that GCSE may take place this year. Mr Williamson addressed this possibility in a letter to the chief exam regulator on Jan 13 where he noted that he would "like to explore the possibility of providing externally set tasks or papers".
Teachers' predicted grades will still be used, he noted that the exams may be necessary so that teachers can "draw on this resource to support their assessments of students".
The Department for Education and Ofqual launched a joint consultation on the plans which ran for a fortnight between mid to end of January 2021. Through this joint consultation, Ofqual and the Department for Education heard the views of students who were due to take their exams, their parents and carers, their teachers, school and college leaders and others who have an interest, including further and higher education providers, and employers. In place of exams in summer 2021 the Government proposed that a student’s grade in a subject will be based on their teacher’s assessment of the standard at which they are performing.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
Fairness to young people has been and will continue to be fundamental to every decision we take on these issues, and I’m determined that despite all the challenges posed by this pandemic, they will not prevent students getting on with and making a success of their lives.
These proposals should give young people confidence that despite exams being cancelled, they will still receive a grade that reflects their ability. This is quite rightly an issue of great public interest and concern and it’s important that those working in education alongside students, parents and employers are able to have their say.
Interim Chief Regulator Simon Lebus said:
We know that everyone wants clarity on the way ahead quickly. Above all, we need to support students to carry on with their education for the remainder of the academic year. Students and learners will carry with them for the rest of their lives the grades they are given on the basis of these arrangements, so we must make sure they are as fair as they can be in these difficult circumstances.
There was an overwhelming response to this consultation with 50% respondents from the student community. The feedback is now being analysed and we will be following this closely to best understand the advice for our students.


Ofqual have started an Open Consultation on how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021. Under the current proposals, Ofqual advise -
• Teachers have been advised to take 'objective decisions' on student's performance based on a range of broader evidence of student's work.
• Ofqual have suggested that exam boards make available a "set of papers" (a combination past papers and new questions) that teachers may use to assess their students.
• Multiple sets of these papers may be produced so papers cannot be 'leaked'.
• Whilst Ofqual hope that these assessments take place in the student's own school, if this is not possible, the assessments could be completed at home, if such an option may be available.
• The assessments will be held between May and early June and grades will be submitted in mid-June by teachers.
• This will allow time for external quality assurance and sampling checks by the exam boards.
• The results will potentially be released by July so all students have the ability to appeal to check any marking errors.
Private candidates/Home-schooled children may be able take normal exams in the summer or autumn.
We are hopeful that this will provide consistency in how grades are awarded and will allay concerns amongst parents and students about the upcoming assessments.

You can read about the Open Consultation here >> https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-how-gcse-as-and-a-level-grades-should-be-awarded-in-summer-2021 

Parents/students can contribute to the Consultation here >> https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/8BYI4T/  This ends on 29/01/2021 2345 hrs.


Due to COVID-19, although GCSE cancellation was announced recently for England, our understanding is that the schools will carry out Teacher assessments for all students for awarding the GCSE grades this year. We understand that teachers are currently working with Ofqual to determine
• scope of coursework
• type of assessments (there is a proposal that some form of external assessment are arranged to ensure fairness in assessments across all of England)
• timing of assessments (there is a proposal that these are held as late in the year as possible)
and we are hopeful that these details will be published soon.
We ask that students continue their on-going learning and keep on top of their preparation as though the exams were going ahead, so their preparation is robust. There is a potential that Teacher assessments are backed up with some external moderation to ensure consistency around assessment standards followed across schools.

Please find below a publication that was issued today on the gov.uk website

On this basis, we are continuing GCSE lessons as usual.


Update 05/01/2021

Owing to the recent announcement from the Government about the cancellation of GCSE for 2021, we are going to wait for the necessary guidelines on GCSE/Equivalent assessments for students. Our understanding is that students will be assessed over the next few months - to award them their GCSE grades later this year.

We are here to help your child in their learning journey over the next few months so they are successful in whatever form of assessment is recommended. We plan to continue our lessons till further updates/instructions are available from the Government.

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