Why does Ofqual want pupils to be compensated for the pandemic disruption?


Pupils should be compensated where possible to address the negative impact that the coronavirus has had on their education, Ofqual’s chief regulator has said.

Dame Glenys Stacey has written to education secretary Gavin Williamson saying that the regulator must recognise “in every way possible” how lost learning could impact upon pupils.

Using “more generous” national performance standards would help to compensate pupils for the “baleful” impact on their education she has stated, although she noted that any solution must be possible “without bending examinations out of shape”.

The move suggests that the degree of grade inflation given to pupils this year as a result of using centre assessed grades will continue.

“We are thinking carefully about the performance standard that should be aimed for in all these qualifications, in 2021,” Dame Glenys said.

“We are intent on making sure that results are sufficiently valid and fair across subjects, but there is nevertheless in our view an opportunity to recognise, and to compensate for the baleful impact of the pandemic for all students qualifying in 2021 (and possibly beyond), by setting national performance standards more generously than in normal times.”

Performance standards are the key metrics that pupils must showcase in order to get a certain grade in the exam they are sitting.

Ofqual usually uses a comparable outcomes approach in order to ensure that sets of results are considered equal year-on-year, although what to use as a benchmark figure has sparked debate following the inflated results from this year.

A number of unions have said that the exams regulator should peg grades in the middle ground between the 2019 and 2020 results, although such an approach remains complex.

Dame Glenys added that Ofqual is considering how exams could be made less daunting for pupils while still ensuring that they have an adequate understanding and knowledge of each subject.

She said further recommendations on the topic will follow at some stage in November and that the guidance may influence what is included in the curriculum in future.

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