March 11th 2021
Thank you for your patience and trust over the last couple of weeks as we reflected on the information we were given by the DfE about the replacement for GCSE examinations. We are working hard to ensure that we have all the necessary information in place to accurately and fairly award grades this summer. Heads of Department are producing a rationale for awarding grades in the different subject areas in response to the Assessment and Evidence guidance provided by Ofqual. I hope that the details set out in this letter will provide you with answers to your questions and give you a sense of what is expected of our students over the coming weeks.
How will grades be awarded this summer?
Grades for GCSEs and other qualifications will be based on a process involving teacher assessment against national standards, internal quality assurance, and external quality assurance by the exam boards.
The national process defined by the Department for Education and the exams’ regulator, Ofqual is as follows:
1. Teachers will assess students against a national standard. Exam boards have said they will define these standards before the Easter break.
2. Departments will submit grades which will be quality assured by the college. This internal quality assurance process will be signed off by the exam board to ensure it is rigorous and in line with national standards.
3. Our college results will be quality assured externally by the exam boards.
4. If the exam boards are confident in our submitted results, then they will award students their final grades.
5. If students do not think their results are accurate, they will have the right to appeal.
What about loss of learning / impact of Covid?
This year, teachers will only assess students on content they have been taught, because of the continued disruption caused by the pandemic. This means students will not be disadvantaged if they individually, their whole class or whole year group have been unable to complete their full course. However, grades can only be submitted on the basis of the evidence we have of students’ performance, even if that evidence covers less of the course than usual.
What evidence will be used?
Teachers will take into account a student’s performance across a range of evidence from both Year 10 and Year 11 to inform their judgement. This evidence will include classwork, homework, in class assessments, in school examinations, Non-Examined Assessment (coursework) where applicable and previous report grades. Different departments may use varying sources of evidence, and there is no requirement for any one type of assessment or evidence to be considered.
Students will be given two opportunities to influence their final grade in two assessment windows that we will be holding after the Easter break. We will hold these assessments in the Sports Hall in order to ensure that all students take the assessments at the same time. Each assessment will be 45 minutes long. Students will be made aware of the topics being assessed and will be supported through the revision process. Please be assured that the questions will focus on material that has been studied in college through face-to face teaching.
These assessments will be important in influencing final awarded grades and students will need to continue to work hard in order to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills. Students who may underachieve for genuine reasons such as illness or covid related absence will not be unfairly graded overall. However, students do have this opportunity to significantly influence their final grade and demonstrate what they are capable of where previous assessments might not have reflected their true ability at that time.
In each assessment students will receive a percentage score but not a GCSE grade. These assessments will be part of the collection of evidence to influence the final awarded subject grade. The exam boards are producing assessment materials that will be sent to us before Easter which we have the option to use. The dates of the assessment windows are:
Assessment window 1: w/c 19th April 2021
Assessment window 2: w/c 10th May 2021
Students who would usually have extra time or other access arrangements in exams will benefit from the same arrangements during these assessment windows. All subjects which have a written exam component will be involved. Fine Art, Graphics, Photography and Textiles do not have a written exam so the final awarded grades will be based on the student’s portfolio. Please note that teachers will not be able to share final grades with students before results day as this would be considered exam malpractice. This year results day is Thursday August 12th.
What should students do to improve their grades?
The best thing students can do is continue to attend lessons, learn, act on feedback from their teachers, revise, and read around their subject. Their final grade will be based on their performance, and so their outcomes are ultimately in their hands. I do appreciate that there is a lot to take in, still plenty to do and lots of learning to take place but please be assured that we will be with the students all the way through this, working to ensure that every student is given every opportunity to maximise their final awarded grade.
As always if you have any questions or concerns, about any aspect of your child’s education here at Blessed Edward’s please do not hesitate to contact us.