The disruption caused to the education of students due to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant the national examination and assessment series scheduled for summer 2021 has been cancelled.
How will grades be awarded in 2021?
This year teachers will carefully assess students’ knowledge, understanding and skills on content that they have been taught and then determine the most appropriate grade to be awarded in each qualification the student has been entered for in school.
These results will then be reviewed by the respective exam boards, who have designed each course, before a final grade is awarded and shared.
How will students be assessed?
Teachers will initially determine student grades. The professional teacher judgement will be based only on what students have been taught and their teachers will use a range of evidence from across the course of study to inform their decision. Different subjects may use different forms of assessment with different levels of control and supervision depending on the specific course requirements. Teachers can assess students based on:
- Records of their performance on the content taught over the entire course
- Non-exam assessment, often referred to as coursework, even if it has not been fully completed.
- Work they have produced in tasks set by their teachers that reflect the specification, format and marking of exam boards. This could include substantial classwork, homework, previous assessments, or mock exams.
- Assessments: to gather further evidence. Teachers will develop these or use assessment materials provided by the exam boards. Importantly, these assessments are not formal exams, nor are they designed to play the role of exams; however, they will give their teachers an up to date understanding of students’ knowledge, understanding and/or skills
Teachers do not need to assess students on every aspect of each subject. They just need a range of evidence that shows their performance on the aspects they have covered.
In most cases, the range of evidence that teachers use to inform grades will be consistent across a class or cohort for each of the qualifications. Teachers will be able to inform students which assessment pieces will be used as evidence. Students then have the opportunity to highlight any extenuating circumstances related to the evidence being considered, for example, if the assessment was affected by personal circumstances, such as illness or significant absence. In these instances, it may be decided that a different range of evidence may be more appropriate to fairly inform a student’s grade. Teachers will document clearly what evidence is used to make the final judgement.
Access Arrangements and Individual Circumstances
For students who are eligible for ‘access arrangements’ for exams, due to special education needs and/or disability, the school will provide reasonable adjustments for assessments that are taking place in the summer. If an assessment has taken place where it was not possible to ensure that appropriate reasonable adjustments were in place, then teachers will take this into account when determining a grade.
In addition, if any student or their parents think that their performance in an assessment has been affected by illness, bereavement or other personal circumstances, they should email Ms Banger, Deputy Headteacher, to document this as soon as possible so that we can ensure it is taken into account.
How are grades determined?
Once all the evidence is selected and assessments are complete, teachers will decide on an overall grade. They will do this objectively; if a student is performing consistently at a grade 5 standard in a subject at GCSE, they will be awarded grade 5. Exam boards have provided advice and guidance to show the standard of work expected for particular grades.
Once a teacher has determined students’ grade, they will be reviewed and standardised by other teachers and Curriculum leaders and then quality assured by Senior Leaders at school; this will ensure grades are determined consistently.
All student work/evidence and relevant records will be securely held, ready for inspection.
If is important to note that teachers will not be able to tell students or their parents, the grade they have submitted to the exam board.
The school will then send all exam grades to the Exam Board who will then quality assure the assessment processes carried out by schools.
Further details about the internal and external quality assurance processes are contained in the Centre Policy.
When will students receive their results?
GCSE students will receive their results on Thursday 12 August 2021.
What if a student wishes to appeal a result?
Everyone is working hard to make sure students are issued with the correct grades on results day. There is also an appeals system to act as a safety net to fix any genuine errors that may not have been identified earlier on.
If a student believes an error has been made in determining their grade, they will have a right to appeal. However, it is very important to note that the grade can go down, up or stay the same as a result.
There are two stages to the appeals process:
- Stage 1: centre review: If a student thinks they have been issued with an incorrect grade, they can appeal to the school, who will review whether an administrative or procedural error has occurred, e.g. submission of an incorrect grade
- Stage 2: appeal to the exam board: If they still think the grade is incorrect after the centre review is complete, they can ask the school to appeal to the exam board, who will then try to determine whether the school or college made an ‘unreasonable exercise of academic judgement. This will involve the exam board reviewing all the assessment evidence in order to take a holistic approach view. Again, the grade could go down, up or stay the same.
Where can I access further information?
JCQ Guidance for Students and Parents, Summer 2021