Students who are not happy with the assigned grades this summer will be able to sit for the full suite of GCSE, AS and A-level exams in autumn, as confirmed by the exam regulator Ofqual. Exams were cancelled this summer, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and students are expected to receive their grades in a calculated manner in August.
In a statement published on the government page, Ofqual said:
“Exam boards must make exams available in all GCSE, AS and A level subjects in the additional autumn series and we are therefore varying our normal rules that allow exams only to be held in May and June.”
“Exam boards must base results on students’ performance in exams alone and not on any non-exam assessment, with the exception of art and design qualifications.”
GCSE and A-level students in England will be awarded calculated grades in August, meaning teacher-assessment, and coursework will play an important role in the grade. Educational institutions were required to provide grades for students in each subject to exam boards, as well as an order of students by performance, which will help standardize judgement and create an equal standard for students in different schools and colleges.
The autumn exam session is for students who are not satisfied with the grade they have been awarded and would like to improve it. Additionally, students who are unable to receive a calculated grade in August will also be eligible to enter the exam session in autumn. Ofqual said that they understand the challenges that schools and colleges might face in the autumn session, however, they will “continue to talk to the sector” in order to duly overcome the challenges.
The decision of Ofqual has risen concerns among The Association of School and College Leaders, who were unsure whether schools and colleges will be able to accommodate the full suite of autumn exams, especially as a result of the situation created by the coronavirus pandemic in the past few months.
“We had argued for the autumn series to be restricted to A levels, and GCSE English and maths. However, we understand the pressure on the government and Ofqual to provide the option of a full suite of exams in the event that pupils and parents are unhappy with centre-assessed grades in August,” Geoff Barton, ASCL’s general secretary, admitted.
As for the grades that will be awarded in August, A-level students will be getting their results on August 13 while GCSE students will be getting their grades on August 20. The exact timing of the autumn exams is yet to be set and confirmed, however, the aim if for “AS and A levels to be held in October and GCSEs in November,” Ofqual has stated.
For anyone who has any concerns regarding bias, discrimination, or “serious malpractice” about grades this summer, the concerns should be brought to the attention of the exam board.
“We, and exam boards, are committed to helping students and their families understand how to access an appeal or make a complaint about bias, discrimination, or another concern. We will provide accessible information and have a helpline available to students and their parents or carers to talk about the appeals process and any other questions they may have about their results this summer,” Sally Collier, Chief Regulator of Ofqual said.