Dear Parents & Carers
The consultation on what should replace GCSE and A Level exams is underway. It is an open consultation and Ofqual are seeking views from all interested parties at this time. The document can be found on the Gov.uk website and you can respond to the consultation here. It’s open until Friday 29 January.
It is 46 pages long and covers an awful lot of questions, however the general proposal is that teachers submit a grade they believe reflects the knowledge and skills of each student. There won’t be an algorithm this year. (If you remember it was the use of an algorithm last year which adjusted so many teacher grades and led to the debacle followed by the U-turn.) We are delighted to see the back of it. There may be a type of formal assessment to replace exams; the key differences between these assessments and actual exams being: they are marked internally rather than by examiners, there may be flexibility in the content so we can choose which topics to examine (all schools are at different stages due to disruption so being able to examine only topics we have covered is positive), and the grade achieved in these assessments is only one part of the evidence used, again allowing that some students have greater levels of disruption than others, even within an organisation. Having said this, in their efforts to maintain rigour in the system, it could be argued that not enough allowance is given for students with varying levels of disrupted learning.
Key questions include:
- When should the grades be submitted? And how long should Years 11 and 13 remain in school?
- From how far back in each student’s performance should evidence be collected to inform the grade? Just this academic year? Last year as well? Just from now?
- Should the new type of assessments be set by exam boards so they set a standard nationwide? Should there be flexibility to choose topics?
- Should these papers be compulsory? And if so, should they all be sat at the same time nationwide to avoid leaks, like the exams they are replacing? Can they be sat at home if lockdown stretches on?
- Should they be marked internally or by examiners?
- What weighting should be given to these papers when determining an overall grade?
- For subjects with units other than exams (eg Art, Dance, etc) to what extent should these non-examined elements inform the overall grade awarded? Should there be external moderation of these pieces of work as usual?
- How should appeals work?
There is a lot to cover and it does seem that the decision to abandon the algorithm has prompted Ofqual and the Secretary of State to propose a system which is closer to traditional exams than last year. As ever with these things, we can see pros and cons and these differ from student to student. Many of us at Myton are responding to the consultation. When I do, I will certainly be edging as close as I can to teacher choice on grades as I believe the varying experience of kids this year needs greater allowance. The more we control, the more we can take into account periods of self-isolation, year group and school closures, etc.
Please do take the time to look through this and add your opinion to the consultation through the links above. They need to know what parents and students think about the ideas as none of it will work very well unless we all have faith in it.
Andy Perry – Head TeacherClick here to return to the current newsletter