‘Fair and accurate’ - Headteachers on why pupils can trust exam grades

Opening exam results

Student will get A-level results on August 10 and GCSEs on August 12. - Credit: PA

Students set to receive their GCSE and A-level results next week can be confident their grades will fairly reflect their hard work, headteachers have said. 

For pupils it is the biggest day in their school lives, with further education and university places on the line. But with exams having been cancelled grades will be based on teacher’s assessments.

Teachers submitted their decisions on pupils' grades after drawing on a range of evidence, including mock exams, coursework, and in-class assessments using questions by exam boards.

Jon Ford, principal of Open Academy Norwich.

Jon Ford, principal of Open Academy Norwich. - Credit: DNEAT

Jon Ford, principal of Open Academy Norwich, said: “These grades reflect the students' hard work over their educational journey including the work conducted online and then upon their return between lockdowns. 

“The profession has until just a few years ago, formally predicted grades for all students which were submitted as part of the examination entry process, so, although this was somewhat last minute in process detail, I believe our teachers have done an incredible job at judging grades both fairly and accurately.”

Exam results

Teacher assessment has praised concerns that exam grades will be inflated. - Credit: PA

Last summer, the proportion of A-level entries awarded top grades surged to a record high after grades were allowed to be based on teachers' assessments.

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It has prompted claims that 'grade inflation’ will see more top grades awarded this summer to compensate for greater disruption to learning.

But a headteachers' union said it is "unhelpful" to speculate on how the grades profile could look for both Tuesday’s A-level and Thursday’s GCSE results.

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Former Bury St Edmunds headteacher Geoff Barton, now general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: It is very much about making the best of a difficult situation and awarding young people with grades as fairly as possible so they can progress to the next stage of their lives.”

Mr Ford said: “Students' work and output were then matched to level descriptors from exam boards and a best fit model used specific to each subject.

Pupils sitting exam

Cancellation of exams means gardes are being based on teacher assessements. - Credit: PA

“Work and grades were then moderated across the school within faculties and where expertise was limited in the academy, the moderation was conducted with other schools.

“Whilst this does not replace the examination process, and as details emerged late during the term, this process did place a huge demand on teachers, I am confident most grades will be a fair reflection of our students' work and ability at this time.”

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