As a result of the disruption to the education of students caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has replaced public exams with a system to determine grades whereby teachers of Year 11 and 13 students must assess their students’ performance, only on the content that has been delivered to them. Overall, the Government’s intention is that it will be no easier or harder for a student to achieve a particular grade this year compared to previous years. We will examine the grades for this year’s cohort compared to cohorts from previous years when exams have taken place, to make sure grades are not overly lenient or harsh.
We have devised subject processes to obtain evidence which reflects the Government’s requirements.
Our processes enable teaching to continue for as long as possible so that teachers can ensure that students have been taught sufficient content to allow progression to the next stage of their education. The gathered evidence of a student’s performance from throughout the course will be used to inform teachers’ grading judgements. Teachers are able to draw from a broad range of evidence across the taught content to determine the grades before submitting the grades to the exam boards. Importantly, when determining a grade, a teacher should reflect the standard at which the student is performing now, not their potential.
Teachers can use evidence to determine grades from across the duration of the student’s course.
The Government has recommended that a range of evidence is used, where it is available. The evidence can include student work produced in response to assessment materials provided by the exam board. This can comprise groups of questions, past papers or materials such as practice papers. Additionally, we can use student work produced from school-devised tasks provided that they reflect the course specification and which follow the same format as exam board materials. Teachers are required to mark in a way that reflects exam board mark schemes. Other allowable evidence can include substantial pieces of class or homework (including that which was produced during remote learning). Evidence such as school-devised tests and mock exams can be used. In performance-based subjects such as music, drama and PE, records of a student’s capability and performance over the course of study can form evidence. Teachers may also draw upon records of each student’s progress and performance over the course of study. Where applicable, students will continue to work on their non-exam assessment (NEA), often referred to as coursework, and outcomes will be marked by teachers and will contribute to the overall grade, whether or not is has been completed. In GCSE, AS and A level art and design, photography and textiles, the student’s grade must be based on the portfolio only, whether or not it has been completed. For the majority of subjects, exam boards will provide assessment materials with marking schemes, and other guidance which will assist teachers in making fair and consistent judgements of the standard of a student’s performance. Many subjects will be using planned assessments after Easter as part of their evidence base for the final grade. These are not exams but will be done in controlled conditions and take place in classrooms.
Balancing Sources of Evidence
The school is required to consider a range of factors when deciding how to balance different sources of evidence. Subjects will prioritise different types of evidence, but will consider when the evidence was produced. Although there will be exceptions, more recent evidence is likely to better represent a student’s performance. We also aim to use evidence which is consistent across a class or the whole cohort. Teachers have to be confident that any work produced is the student’s own and that the student has not been given inappropriate levels of support to complete it, either at school, at home or with an external tutor. Where subjects are tiered, teachers will provide accessible questions and tasks for lower attaining students as well as appropriately demanding questions and tasks for higher attaining students in order to support higher grades. Exam boards will publish guidance to support teachers in making fair and consistent judgements, as well as minimising the risk of bias and malpractice.
Provision for Students with Access Arrangements
The purpose of Access Arrangements (AAs) is to help reduce the effect of a disability or difficulty, which places a learner at a substantial disadvantage in assessments and examinations. They must not give the learner an unfair assessment advantage over other learners taking similar assessments.
The school has, and will, continue to ensure that a student’s approved access arrangements are applied and adjusted to reflect the changed circumstances of assessment compared to traditional examination arrangements.
As a school we are aware that a number of students have faced significant challenges during their course. We have processes in place to ensure these are taken into account so that a final grade fairly reflects the standard a student has reached. If you think there have been significant factors that may have affected your child’s performance that the school is not already aware of, please inform us in writing as soon as possible so that we can consider it in line with our processes.
Checking the Quality of Assessment
The school will receive requirements for quality assurance processes from exam boards. The boards will review schools’ processes before grades are submitted. Once grades have been submitted to the exam boards, they will check evidence for a sample of student grades in a sample of subjects, in a sample of schools and colleges. The exam boards will decide whether the grades submitted by schools are a reasonable exercise of academic judgement of the students’ performance. If this is found not to be the case the exam boards will ask a school or college to investigate. Exam boards will not re-mark the student’s evidence or give an alternative grade. Grades would only be changed by the board if they are not satisfied with the outcome of an investigation or if malpractice is found. It is possible that checks will also be triggered due to a range of factors, but including whether a school’s results are out of line with expectations based on past performance
Every student will have the right to appeal their grade if they wish. If a student wishes to appeal, the school will undertake a review to check whether all processes were followed correctly and no errors were made. If the school finds an error, we can submit a revised grade to the exam board. If the student still wants to appeal, they will ask the school to submit a formal appeal to the exam board for them. The exam board will check whether the school followed its own processes and exam board requirements, as well as reviewing the evidence used to form their judgement and providing a view as to whether the grade awarded was a reasonable exercise of academic judgement. If the exam board finds that the grade is not reasonable, they will determine the alternative grade and inform the school. If the student disagrees with the school or the exam board, the case can be referred to Ofqual’s Exams Procedure Review Service (EPRS). The exam board’s decision on the grade following appeal will stand unless the EPRS finds that the exam board has made a procedural error. Appeals are not likely to lead to adjustments in grades where the original grade is a reasonable exercise of academic judgement supported by the evidence.
Grades can go up or down as the result of an appeal.
The information shared for each subject is accurate at the time of publishing.