Teacher assessments to replace GCSE and A-level exams this summer

"This year we're going to put our trust in teachers rather than algorithms"

GCSE and A-level exams will be replaced with school-based assessments this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed.

The new announcement follows the controversy surrounding grading in 2020, when students were given their grades based on an algorithm – with critics arguing that the system unfairly penalised disadvantaged students.

The system was eventually scrapped and teachers allowed to award grades based on assessment of their pupils’ abilities – a system which will now continue for a second year.

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Delivering the announcement to the Commons, Williams said the the government will “put trust in teachers rather than algorithms”

He continued: “While the details will need to be fine-tuned by Ofqual [the exams regulator]…I can confirm that I wish to use teacher-assessed grades that are awarded fairly and consistently.”

“I know students and staff have worked hard to prepare for the January exams and assessments of vocational and technical qualifications and we want to allow schools and colleges to continue with these assessments where they judge it is right to do so,” Williamson added.

“No college should feel pressured to offer these and we will ensure all students are able to progress fairly.”

It comes after England headed back into lockdown on Tuesday in response to a severe surge in coronavirus cases.

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The new lockdown – the third since the pandemic took hold last March – will see a number of stricter measures enter immediately, with new laws coming into force within the next 24 hours.

Among them is the revival of the “stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives” message. People may only leave their homes to shop for essentials, to exercise, to go to work “if you absolutely cannot work from home”, to seek medical assistance or to get a COVID test, or to escape domestic abuse.

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