GCSE and A-Level students who are taking exams in the next year will receive more generous grades, advance notice of some topics and « exam aids » due to the disruption caused by Covid-19.
They are also offered a « second chance » to sit papers if they miss something due to illness or self-isolation, and in « extreme cases » where a student has a « legitimate reason » to miss all exams, A “teacher” informed assessment ”can be used as a last resort.
The package of measures was announced today by the Department of Education and Ofqual to promote fairness in recognition of the « unprecedented disruption » in student learning.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured) hopes these « extraordinary steps » give young people the « clarity and confidence they need to achieve any success ». .
In addition to the three-week delay in GCSE and A-Level exams previously announced by the government, a more generous grading « in line with national results from 2020, so that students are not disadvantaged this year » provided. .
With this system, each subject receives « the same degree of generosity, so that the approach does not favor some students over others depending on the subject chosen ». .
« Exam aids » such as formulas or vocabulary are also provided for use in « some exams ». However, it is not expected that students will be allowed to introduce passages of text into the exam.
It is currently unclear which resources are allowed for each subject or which FE-based courses will be included.
Students can also focus their revision with advance notice of certain topics covered in GCSEs, AS, and A-Levels. and additional exam papers are scheduled if a student misses exams or assessments due to illness or need for self-isolation.
If a student fails all of his grades in a subject, he has the option of filing an “emergency paper” shortly after the main exams.
In the « extreme case » where a student has a « legitimate reason to miss all of their papers », a « validated teacher-informed assessment can be used if all chances of an exam are passed ». .
Professional and technical assessments are also adjusted depending on qualifications. Ofqual had already announced in September that contracting authorities would be given the freedom to adjust their assessment modalities in order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
The government has announced that it will provide details of this process and adjustments in the New Year.
Ofqual also said there are no plans to add any kind of footnote to the certificates of students who will achieve in the next year that they have benefited from these exceptional measures.
While the government continues to release data from the tests, exams, and ratings for schools and post-16 vendors in 2021, they won’t be releasing the normal ranked achievement tables of school and college-level data related to tests and exams based.
An expert advisory group is also being set up to « monitor the varying effects of the pandemic on students across the country ». .
Association of Colleges board chairman David Hughes said there was « no easy solution the government could put in place to ensure the 2021 exams are fair for everyone, but the adjustments announced today will help to make things fairer. « .
He added that this was « urgent » because over 50. 000 students will take BTEC and other technical exams in January and « all students want reassurance about how assessments and grades are carried out as quickly as possible ». .
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the solutions proposed by the DfE were « not perfect » but « will make them as fair as possible, given the circumstances ». .
« Nothing can be stated given the fact that learning has been so disrupted by the coronavirus and that students have been affected to very different degrees, » he added.
Bill Watkin, executive director of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, added that today’s plans introduce « some welcome flexibility » but remains « concerned about the different effects Covid has had on young people in different parts of the country ». .
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