What role will head teachers play in student’s grades in 2021?


Head teachers will need to pass judgement on whether pupils have been taught sufficient content to progress with their studies when submitting teacher assessment grades in 2021.

New guidance from Ofqual, published as part of the consultation on plans to replace exams, notes that pupils have experienced different levels of disruption as a result of the pandemic.

The move will apply to GCSE and A-level pupils and is designed to ensure that they have an adequate understanding of the core elements of the curriculum.

The Department for Education has also published its own guidance for teachers on the types of evidence that can be used, as well as information on how to judge a pupil’s work.

Pupils will not need to have been taught a minimum amount of content to be awarded a grade, although head teachers must declare that pupils have been taught “sufficient content” to mean they can progress.

Ensuring adequate progress

Ofqual’s interim chief regulator Simon Lebus has explained the process to students in a blog post and noted that many youngsters have voiced concerns over gaps in the content they have been taught for certain subjects.

“We will not set any requirements about the minimum amount of content that should be taught or assessed, but we will ask the head of your school or college to confirm that you have been taught enough content so that you can progress to the next stage of your education,” he explained.

He said he wants pupils to be in a position to “make the best choices” over how they progress with their education, and that opting for a subject at a higher level would be difficult if core knowledge is missing.

Mr Lebus added that teachers will only assess progress for GCSEs, AS and A-levels based on the content that has been taught to determine a grade, with a range of evidence used such as coursework, remote learning and classroom studies.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has also said that grades will not be pegged to past years, as the use of an algorithm has already been ruled out by ministers.

The new guidance also notes that some new questions and resources will be made available to help teachers make their judgements, in addition to past questions.

This is designed to aid those taking subjects which have recently undergone reform and where there might not be a sufficient amount of past questions to cover all of the elements of the curriculum.

Teachers will be able to use evidence from both classroom settings and that delivered via remote learning, and while elements such as coursework will not be moderated, they can be used to guide grade judgements.

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