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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.

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

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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.

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