GCSE and A Level results will be decided by teachers this year - despite 2020's controversy

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 9:14 am
Updated Thursday, 25th February 2021, 9:14 am
GCSE and A Level grades will be decided by teachers this year, exams watchdog Ofqual has announced (Photo: Shutterstock)

GCSE and A Level grades will be decided by teachers this year, exams watchdog Ofqual has announced.

The decision to cancel exams this summer due to the Covid pandemic was made earlier this year, with it now announced that schools will instead determine students’ grades by using a combination of mock exam results, essays and coursework.

How will it work?

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There will be no algorithm calculating results this year, Ofqual and the Department for Education (DfE) have said.

Last year, controversy arose after teachers in England had nearly 40 per cent of their A Level assessments downgraded by the exam regulator’s algorithm.

However, a government U-turn was then made, and all A Level and GCSE results in England were then instead based on teacher-assessed grades.

This year’s grading system will again use teachers' judgements, with schools able to decide results on evidence including mock exams, coursework and essays.

Optional assessments will be set by exam boards for all subjects, but they will not be taken in exam conditions or decide final grades.

Results will also be published earlier in August this year in order to allow students time to appeal results.

A Level results day will be 10 August, with GCSEs results on 12 August.

If students are unhappy with their results, then they are able to appeal, with no financial charge expected.

For those who still want to take written papers, there will be an option of exams in the autumn.

The decision comes after a consultation into how best to assess students this summer after months of both school and college closures. The new grading system will be set out by the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, in the House of Commons on Thursday (25 Feb).

‘Teachers will be required to produce the evidence’

The schools minister, Nick Gibb, said that as part of checks against grade inflation, teachers will have to show evidence for the grades they award students.

Mr Gibb told BBC Breakfast: “Teachers will be required to produce the evidence and the second layer of quality assurance is checking by the exam boards.

“So if the grades when they are submitted, if in a particular school they look very out of line with the achievements of that school in the past, that will be a signal for the exam board to pay extra attention, maybe pay a visit to that school to make sure that the evidence the teacher has collected to justify that grade really does justify that grade.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the announcement on his Twitter page.

He wrote: “No child should be left behind as a result of learning lost during the pandemic. That’s why students will receive grades awarded and determined by teachers.

“This fair and flexible system will ensure all young people can progress to the next stage of their education or career,” the Prime Minister added.