Firstly, we would like to congratulate all our Year 11 students for their continued attendance and engagement with their lessons and learning during this period of remote teaching. We understand that there is considerable uncertainty for students at present and are hoping that this letter will be the first stage of being able to clarify what will happen in the next few weeks and months for students, and to provide some reassurance.
You may well be aware that last week, the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, and Ofqual, the exams regulator, published the results of the government consultation into how grades will be awarded in the absence of examinations this summer.
The consultation confirmed that there will be no exams and that students’ grades will be determined from a range of work they may already have completed, and work that they will complete when they are back with teachers, face to face in classrooms from March 8th onwards. Schools will use a broad range of evidence to show what students understand, know and can do and this will be used to determine a grade which will be issued by the relevant exam board as normal. Students can be reassured that their grade will be awarded based on several different pieces of work, assessments, and exams, and that no one piece of work or exam outcome will be used to decide upon a grade.
All assessments of the standard at which students are working will be subject to rigorous internal quality assurance within school to ensure that it is fair and consistent, and work will be moderated and standardised. It will then be subject to external quality assurance and checking by the exam boards to ensure that schools’ processes are detailed and fair and that their assessments are accurate. It is only once exam boards are satisfied that this is indeed the case, that they will then issue grades.
More information will be shared with parents, carers and students about exactly what this range of evidence will be drawn from, once we have more guidance from exam boards and Ofqual. The government have asked that exam boards get this information to schools by Easter. In the meantime, the key message to students remains the same: there are still some months of learning ahead and there will be many opportunities to come to demonstrate the standard each student can work at. Therefore, it is essential that students continue to do as they have done: to attend, to engage, to complete work and to ask for help and support when they are not sure. Continuing to do this for every lesson is the most important thing students can do to put themselves in the best position possible at this time. Students should be clear that working hard and preparing for any internal assessments which are set are the key things for them to focus on, while being reassured that their grades will be a fair reflection of their performance across time and not due to a result for any one single piece of work.
Ofqual, the exams regulator, has produced the following infographics to summarise the approach to awarding grades for GCSE which you may find helpful to see.
We will be in touch to confirm whether the mock exams in English, Maths and Science which are scheduled towards the end of March, will go ahead as planned or will be adapted. We don’t yet know what the leaving date will be for year 11 and will communicate this as soon as we do.
Results Day this summer have been changed and is now confirmed to be Thursday 12th August for GCSEs – please add this date to your diaries. We hope to be able to have normal in-person Results Days, but this will be dependent on the local and national context at the time. More information will follow nearer the time.
We hope this letter has provided you with some clarity and reassurance at what is a challenging time. We are looking forward very much to Monday 8th March and having students back in classrooms again, and working together to support them to achieve their potential this year.