‘They know students best’: teachers to decide A-level and GCSE results

GCSEs and A-levels cancelled by the pandemic will be replaced by grades decided by teachers.

GCSEs and A-levels cancelled by the pandemic will be replaced by grades decided by teachers. - Credit: PA

Headteachers have welcomed clarity over how A-level and GCSE students will receive grades determined by their teachers.

Schools will determine grades this summer by using a combination of mock exams, coursework and essays after this summer's exams were cancelled due to the pandemic.

The results will be published earlier in August to give pupils more time to appeal.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said the government had devised the “fairest possible system for those pupils, asking those who know best - their teachers - to determine their grades, with our sole aim to make sure all young people can progress to the next stage of their education or career".

Last summer, thousands of A-level students had their results downgraded from school estimates by a controversial algorithm, before Ofqual announced a U-turn which allowed them to use teachers' predictions instead.

Test papers set by exam boards for each subject will be provided but are intended to inform the judgement of teachers not...

Test papers set by exam boards for each subject will be provided but are intended to inform the judgement of teachers not be used for exams. - Credit: PA

How will teachers decide pupils' grades?

Teachers will be able to draw on a range of evidence when determining grades, including mock exams, coursework or other work completed as part of a pupil's course, such as essays or in-class tests.


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Exam boards will provide teachers with optional assessment questions for students to answer to also help schools decide which grades to award.

But it is understood that teachers will have the flexibility to choose how long students have to complete the task, and where it will be carried out.

Exam results will be published earlier in August to give pupils more time to appeal.

Exam results will be published earlier in August to give pupils more time to appeal. - Credit: PA

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Will an algorithm be used to set grades?

After last year's chaos, the exams watchdog Ofqual and the Department for Education (DfE) say there will be no algorithm calculating results.

This year teachers will submit their grades to exam boards by June 18 who will then carry out quality assurance checks through a combination of random sampling and more targeted scrutiny.

Richard Cranmer, chief executive of St Benet’s Multi-Academy Trust.

Richard Cranmer, chief executive of St Benet’s Multi-Academy Trust. - Credit: St Benet’s MAT

What’s been the reaction from schools?

Richard Cranmer, chief executive of St Benet’s Multi-Academy Trust said: “Schools have been waiting a long time for this decision and in my view it is, at this stage in the year, the best option for our students. 

“Predicting grades for students is something that teachers do every year for exam boards so although made more difficult this year, their continued work with the students either remotely or in person means that they know them very well.”

Jon Ford, principal of Open Academy Norwich, said: “It is difficult to see how else it could be done fairly this year, so I welcome this decision. 

“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 I do not anticipate any major problems.”

Jon Ford, Principal of Open Academy in Norwich.

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

Why are students receiving their results earlier than normal?

Normally students receive their results in mid to late August. But this summer, A-level students will receive their results on August 10 and GCSE pupils will receive their results two days later on August 12.

It is hoped that bringing forward the dates will ensure that A-level students have enough time to log any appeals so that they do not miss out on their preferred university place for the autumn.

Every student will have the right to appeal their grade and they will face no additional costs doing so.

Every student will have the right to appeal their grade and they will face no additional costs doing so. - Credit: PA

How can pupils challenge their grades if they are unhappy?

Every student will have the right to appeal their grade and they will face no additional costs doing so.
Appeals applications will go through the school or college first where they will be asked to check for errors or process issues.

If a student is still unhappy, then the appeal can be raised with exams boards who will then assess whether the teachers' judgment is fair. Students will also be offered the chance to sit exams in the autumn.

What about vocational qualifications?

Teachers' grades will be used to replace written vocational exams, in the same way as GCSEs and A-levels.

But where there are practical, hands-on skills to be tested, such as for a professional qualification, some of these exams will continue in a Covid-safe way.

The results for some vocational qualifications will be released in the week of August 9.

These qualifications include many Btecs and Cambridge Nationals.

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