Teacher grading to replace 2021 exams

2021-01-12

Teachers will be responsible for awarding GCSE and A Level grades in 2021 following the cancellation of summer exams, Gavin Williamson has announced.


The education secretary told the House of Commons of plans to “put trust in teachers” while revealing that an algorithm will not be used to adjust results.


He showcased a desire to use “a form of teacher assessed grades”, with staff given “training and support” to ensure fair and consistent outcomes will be awarded across England.


After the government unveiled plans to close schools to the majority of pupils in an effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would be unfair for them to sit exams in the summer.


Plans need to be fine-tuned

Mr Williamson said that the plans need to be “fine-tuned” with the government keen to avoid a repeat of 2020 when its system for calculated grades was eventually scrapped.


“Although exams are the fairest way we have of accessing what a student knows, the impact of this pandemic now means it is not possible to have these exams this year,” he said.


Exams regulator Ofqual has a set of contingency options and a consultation with exam boards and other teaching organisations will now take place to work on the details.


Ofqual revealed they “have been considering different scenarios for some time” and that lessons have been learned from 2020.


A spokesperson said the regulator will be “mindful” of Mr Williamson’s inclination to use teacher assessments, while also considering the impact it would have on teacher workloads.


Teaching unions call for clarity

Patrick Roach, general secretary at teachers’ union NASUWT, stressed that the system used “must not repeat the chaos of 2020” and that it must also “keep workload and bureaucracy to a minimum”.


This was echoed by the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Geoff Barton, who said “there is a real need for urgency” as schools need to plan for the summer.


The Ofqual consultation will last for two weeks according to Mr Williamson, with further details to be published in due course.


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