Thursday 21 May 2020
As you are aware, the national position is that all exams taking place in May/June this year have been cancelled. In light of this, the Government has decided that all students in colleges who were due to take GCSE examinations or complete most vocational qualifications this summer are to be awarded a grade by the exam boards based on a centre assessment of the grade they would have been ‘most likely to achieve’ had the academic year proceeded as normal.
While this time of uncertainty is likely to cause anxiety for many students, I would like to reassure you that this process will be carried out in a thorough and robust way to ensure it is fair and as accurate as possible.
We understand that you may have concerns about how the GCSE and Vocational grades will be calculated and the information below will help you understand what happens next, and what your teachers and the College will do.
The key points of what the Government has published on its plans for awarding grades are outlined below:
1. Awarding grades:
GCSE and Vocational students will be awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. To produce these levels or grades exam boards are asking teachers to take into account a range of evidence and data. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment and statistical modelling, to produce a calculated grade for each student and standardise grades to ensure fairness and consistency and to maintain standards. Grades awarded will therefore not just be teacher calculated grades. There will be some exceptions to the calculated grade process based on the type of programme and the specification requirements ie where work placement is mandatory (Childcare), where professional exams have to be sat (AAT) or for those undertaking an apprenticeship programme. Further details for such courses are awaited from the Awarding Bodies.
What evidence will be used to arrive at a centre assessed grade?
The grades we will submit to the exam boards will be a fair, reasonable and carefully considered judgement of the ‘most likely grade’ a student would have achieved if they had sat their exams this summer and completed any vocational non-examined assessments. This means we will take into account the full range of evidence we have as a College about each student. This will include:
- non examined assessments - whether completed or not (GCSE English speaking and listening module, vocational non examined assessments)
- mock examinations for GCSEs and vocational programmes
- previous grades (re-sits, prior achievement)
- access arrangements (in-class and exam support)
- attendance records
- predicted grades as at 20 March 2020
What else will you take into consideration for a student's grade?
We appreciate most students put in a lot more effort in the run up to exams and towards the end of their programmes and any evidence of this recent progress will also inform our judgements. We will take into account that students were last with us on 20 March 2020 and any exams were not due to start until May; our teaching staff have vast experience in tracking the trajectory of students as they prepare for their exams or end of course assignments.
The guidance is clear that “no student should be disadvantaged if they are unable to complete any work set after Colleges were closed”.
We will ensure all teachers are made aware of cases of significant health issues/other extenuating circumstances for which we have documented evidence so that this is taken into consideration.
If students do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case, then students will have the right to appeal. At this time, details of this process have still to be confirmed by the Regulator.
If GCSE students do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the chance to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once colleges are open again (an Autumn GCSE series has been proposed by the Regulator). Students will also have the option to sit their GCSE or and/or Vocational exams in 2021.
3. Final grade/certification:
In terms of the grade and the certificate for every programme, the levels and grades awarded will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years.
What we cannot do
We cannot accept information from parents (or private tutors) about improved attitude/focus and how they believe this would have improved the expected outcome. We are also unable to discuss grades with parents/guardians/students or any other 3rd party as the Awarding Bodies can interpret any such discussions as an attempt to influence the grading process.
Can I see the grades submitted to the exam board?
No. Ofqual is clear that this would compromise the process.
Their guidance states that disclosure of this ‘data’ is ‘exempt from disclosure’ under paragraph 25 (2) of the Data Protection Act.
When will the results be published?
Results will be published in the summer as planned, GCSE and Level 2 Vocational results will be available on Thursday 20 August, Level 3 Vocational results will be issued on Thursday 13 August (there may be some exceptions to these dates depending on specific qualifications and Awarding Bodies).
Please rest reassured that John Ruskin College are working to ensure this process is robust, fair and reflects our students’ achievements. For any queries on exams, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kate Oliver - Exams Manager