The exams watchdog Ofqual has confirmed that GCSEs and A-levels that are cancelled in England by the coronavirus pandemic this year will be replaced by teacher-assessed grades.
The new arrangements are set to be announced by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson in the House of Commons later today (February 25).
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The measures are being brought in following the mass closure of schools and colleges across England in recent months due to the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, with final grades set to be determined by a combination of mock exams, coursework and essays. Algorithms will not be used to calculate results.
Teachers can also inform their pupils how they fared in test papers set by exam boards, but not their final grades.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already confirmed that exams in their schools and colleges will be replaced by teacher-assessed grades this year.
A-level and GCSE results will be published in England earlier in August (August 10 for A-levels, August 12 for GCSEs) to allow time for students to appeal, with no financial charge expected.
Schools minister Nick Gibb has confirmed that students who are awaiting the result of an appeal before being granted a university place will be prioritised under this year’s system.
Exam boards can set optional assessments for all subjects, but those will not be taken in exam conditions and won’t decide final grades. The boards will also check random samples of final results in the summer, and if there are specific concerns about unusual results they can then investigate and potentially change grades.
The new measures follow the uproar that was caused last year by pandemic-enforced exam cancellations, which saw thousands of A-level students having their results downgraded from school estimates by a controversial algorithm.
Ofqual later announced a U-turn which saw final results being determined by teacher assessment instead.
In response to the new plans, the Education Policy Institute warned of a “high risk of inconsistencies” between schools and that “extremely high grade inflation” could occur – which could make it difficult for universities and employers to distinguish between applicants.