UK: Guide for students released today by Ofqual

Students taking GCSEs, A levels and many other qualifications this year are being offered important support with a new guide from Ofqual.

The easy-to-use ‘Student guide to awarding: summer 2021’ – published today by the qualifications regulator – is written for students. It complements the materials that have already been published for teachers.

It also contains important advice on where students in England and their families can go for more information and support, including with mental health concerns.

The guide reminds students, parents and carers not to put teachers under pressure over grading.

It states:

The government has said that many exams and assessments cannot be held fairly this year as a result of the disruption students have faced due to the pandemic.

Your teachers will instead submit grades to the exam boards, based on their assessment of what you have shown you know and can do, enabling you to progress to the next stage of your education, training, or employment.

Interim Chief Regulator Simon Lebus said:

The arrangements we have put in place offer the fairest way forward and it is important that students, parents and the wider public have confidence in this year’s process.

Students this year will only be assessed on what they have been taught – because of differing levels of lost learning due to COVID-19-related disruption.

The arrangements follow a public consultation in January which attracted more than 100,000 responses – mainly from students, parents, carers and teachers.

GCSEs, A levels and AS levels will be graded by teachers’ judgements using evidence from mocks, tests, coursework, or other work. They will be signed off by school, college and department heads before going to the relevant exam board no later than 18 June.

Schools, colleges and exam boards will then carry out quality assurance checks so that students, their parents, employers and the wider public can have confidence in how this summer’s grades are determined. After grading, all centres will send samples of some students’ work to exam boards, which will carry out further checks at random or where there are concerns.

The new guide also outlines how students can appeal if they believe a grade is wrong. For most qualifications, students will have the option of sitting exams this autumn to improve their summer grade.

Arrangements for many vocational and technical qualifications follow similar principles, although assessments will still be needed for qualifications that require students to demonstrate occupational or professional competence or proficiency. This is explained further in the guide and Ofqual’s qualification explainer tool. The guide also contains advice for private candidates.

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