GCSEs 2021: Final grade checks needed by results day

GCSEs 2021: Final grade checks needed by results day

Amy Gibbons at TES reported that schools minister sets out plans for grading reviews and provisional process for next year’s GCSE and A-level exams.

Exam boards are still set to make final checks on conduct on teacher-assessed grades before GCSE grades and A-level results are published in three weeks’ time, the schools minister has said.

Nick Gibb also revealed today that reviews of teacher judgements have been requested on “some occasions”, where questions have been raised over grading evidence.

The schools minister was addressing MPs in the House of Commons following last week’s launch of the Department for Education and Ofqual consultation on measures that could be taken to mitigate disruption to students sitting GCSE and A-level exams next year.

Other updates from today’s session included…

1. Most GCSE and A-level grades submitted and checked

Mr Gibb told MPs that “more than 99.9 per cent of all teacher-assessed grades have been submitted for this year” ahead of next month’s GCSE and A-level results days.

After submitting these grades, schools and colleges were asked to provide evidence to exam boards – a sample of which was checked to verify teachers’ judgements.

Mr Gibb said more than 90 per cent of this evidence was submitted within 48 hours, and “the process of evidence checking is almost complete”.

“As of 21 July, 99.5 per cent of centres have submitted the evidence requested,” he said.

2. Schools should teach ‘full curriculum’ next year

Told by Lib Dem MP Munira Wilson that teachers “want to focus their very precious face-to-face teaching time with pupils on parts of the syllabus that will definitely be assessed next year”, Mr Gibb stressed that the government will be asking schools to teach the “full curriculum”.

Ms Wilson said: “In my recent visits to secondary schools in Twickenham, Year 10 and 12 pupils have told me how anxious they are because of the lack of clarity around exams in 2022 – whether they’ll even go ahead, how they might be assessed, what they might be assessed on.

“And teachers told me that with all the disruption, they want to focus their very precious face-to-face teaching time with pupils on parts of the syllabus that will definitely be assessed next year.

“So can the minister please commit to putting pupils, parents and teachers out of their misery, by providing a clear steer on 2022 assessment, not sometime in the autumn but by the beginning of September?”

He responded: “We have made clear, and the secretary of state has been very clear about this, that our plan is for exams to go ahead and we want schools to teach the full curriculum.

“The purpose of the adaptations is to make the exams as fair as possible for students and to give them the confidence in taking those exams, given the disruption that they have suffered over the past 16 months.”

3. Back to normal in 2023

While schools must wait for certainty on plans for 2022 exams, Mr Gibb made it clear that the government is keen for a return to normality the following year.

Responding to concerns that the incoming A-level cohort will never have taken exams, he said: “Of course, this year’s Year 12 are people that have not have taken GCSEs and…all this was taken into account when we devised the adaptations that we have proposed for 2022.

“And I can give…the assurance that we will return to normal in 2023.”

And asked by Conservative MP Rob Butler for reassurance that the plans will “mark an important step back to an exam regime that is both rigorous and fair”, he said: “We do want to get our exams system back to normal as swiftly as possible.

“But I believe that given the disruption students have suffered over the last 16 or 17 months, that the adaptations that we are proposing together with Ofqual in the consultation document we published on 12 July are the fairest approach to exams in 2022, as a stepping stone to full normality in 2023.”

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