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Closed petition Give students the option to take exams or receive assessed grades for 2020/21

The Government should allow private candidates and current students the option to take exams in Summer 2021, if they choose to do so.

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Meanwhile, others who opt out should be given fairly assessed grades based off classroom results, teacher predictions etc. Such results must also be standardised.

Recently, Wales announced that the Summer 2021 GCSE, AS and A-Level exams will be scrapped. This decision has been made in light of the pandemic and the effects it's had on this year's cohort of students. There is speculation that the rest of the UK will follow suit.

However, such decisions do not take into account private candidates who planned on re-sitting exams nor students whose efforts may not, for various reasons, be as fairly represented by predicted grades being awarded.

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Government responded

This response was given on 17 February 2021

The department and Ofqual have launched a joint, two-week consultation that seeks views on proposals that enable all candidates to receive a grade fairly.

Read the response in full

While the Department continues to believe that exams are the fairest way of judging students’ performance, we cannot guarantee all students will be in a position to fairly sit their exams this summer. We have therefore confirmed that GCSEs, A and AS level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned.

The department and Ofqual have now concluded a joint, two-week consultation that seeks views on proposals that enable all candidates to receive a grade fairly. We are working at pace to provide clarity to the sector and will publish the outcome of the consultation by the end of February.

We have already confirmed our proposals that in summer 2021, students taking GCSE, AS and A levels regulated by Ofqual should be awarded grades based on an assessment by their teachers. We recognise that it is important that a breadth of evidence should inform a teacher’s assessment of their student’s deserved grade.

The consultation proposed that teachers should assess their students objectively. To support them we proposed that the exam boards could provide guidance and training. We also proposed that the exam boards should provide support and information for schools and colleges on the requirements for assessing their students. The boards will undertake checks to ensure all schools and colleges take an appropriate approach.

We understand that private candidates and home educated students may have some questions about the decision to move to a form of teacher assessment. We also know of some private candidates who were unable to receive a grade in summer 2020 and who did not take the exams in the autumn who are particularly concerned about how the arrangements will work for them.

It is therefore important that there is a clear and accessible route for private candidates to be assessed and receive a grade. The department is committed to ensuring that the grades private candidates receive are fair, valid and consistent.

The department and Ofqual set out four possible approaches for private candidates in the consultation, including options for exam boards to run exams for private candidates as normal in the summer or autumn:

(a) for private candidates to complete the papers set by the exam boards for use in schools and colleges. The exam boards would mark the papers (and any completed non-exam assessment) and issue a grade to the private candidate based on their performance.

(b) for private candidates to work with a school or college willing to assess the standard at which they are performing – using the same type of evidence the school and college is considering for its students.

(c) for the exam boards to run normal exams for private candidates to take in the summer of 2021 – appropriate venues would need to be provided.

(d) for the exam boards to run normal exams for private candidates to take in the autumn of 2021 – appropriate venues would need to be provided.

We also proposed that all students who do not believe their grade reflects the evidence of the standard at which they were performing will be able to appeal.

We have built on the joint stakeholder engagement that Ofqual and DfE undertook last year and have engaged with as many people as possible in an open and transparent way to consider the main options and their implications, including seeking the views of the students who would have sat exams this year and their parents.

Further details of alternative arrangements to exams will be confirmed by the end of February, providing clarity to the sector and ensuring that students have the confidence that they will be fairly treated in terms of assessment in 2021.

In gathering the views of the sector, the department is confident that a solution can be found that ensures that despite exams being cancelled, all young people will still be able to receive a grade that reflects their ability.

Department for Education

Share your views on how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021

Ofqual and the Department for Education have launched a consultation on how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021. They'd like to hear from students who were due to take their exams, their parents and carers, their teachers, school and college leaders and others who have an interest, including further and higher education providers, and employers.

The consultation outlines proposals for grades based on teacher assessment, and asks for views on these, including how teachers should be supported to make their assessments fairly and consistently.

You can find out more about the consultation and contribute here:

The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 29 January 2021.

Government update on summer 2021 qualifications

On Thursday 25 February, the Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson MP gave a statement to the House of Commons on education recovery and qualifications. In his statement he described how grades for qualifications including GCSEs, A-Levels and BTECs in England will be awarded this summer.

The Government have announced that students, including those taking some vocational qualifications, will receive grades determined by their teachers. Teachers will have the option of using questions provided by exam boards.

Find out more about how this will work:

Read the Government statement here:

Read a blog from the Chief Regulator of the exams watchdog Ofqual, with more detail about the arrangements, here:

What is a Minister? 

Ministers are the MPs and members of the House of Lords who are in the Government. They are appointed by the Prime Minister and each given a specific area of government policy to oversee, for example education, health and social care, or national defence. Some senior Ministers are also referred to as Secretaries of State.
Ministers speak on behalf of the Government during parliamentary debates and must answer questions put to them by other MPs or members of the House of Lords. 

What is a ministerial statement?

Ministerial statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of MPs, often at short notice. You can find out more about them here:

Education Committee to hold session on student grades

The Education Select Committee has announced that it will be holding a meeting on 9 March to consider the new arrangements for determining student grades. The Committee is a cross-party group of MPs which scrutinises the work of the Department for Education and is independent of the Government.

It will hear from Ofqual and the Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb MP. You can find out more about that session, and the topics it is likely to cover, here:

Find out more about the Education Committee:

The Education Committee is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:

Government launches public survey on Autumn 2021 exams

The Government has launched a public survey to help decide how GCSEs, A-levels and other exams happening in England this autumn should be organised, including arrangements for awarding students' grades.

The consultation is being run by the exams regulator, Ofqual. They want to hear the views of groups including students who were expecting to take GCSE, AS or A level exams in the summer, and their teachers.

The consultation is open until 9 April.

Read a summary of Ofqual's proposals, and share your views with Ofqual, here:

Ofqual is suggesting that any student who receives a teacher assessed grade in summer 2021 should be able to enter the autumn exams; and that grades in the autumn exam series should be determined by a student’s performance in the exams alone. Students would then be able to use the better of either the summer or the autumn grade.

It is proposing that A level exams (and any AS exams) should be held in October, and GCSE exams in November and December.

Read Ofqual's proposals in full here:

What is Ofqual?

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. This includes maintaining standards and confidence in qualifications in England, including GCSEs, A levels and AS levels.

Find out more about Ofqual here:

MPs question the Government on its plans for awarding qualifications in 2021 and 2022

On Thursday 22 July, MPs questioned Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb MP on the Government's plans for awarding qualifications in 2021 and 2022, including GCSEs and A-levels, following a Ministerial Statement.

Watch the statement and MPs' questions:
Read the transcript:

What is a Ministerial Statement?

Ministerial Statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of the House, often at short notice. MPs can question the Minister about the matters raised in the statement.

Find out more about Ministerial Statements: