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Awarding Qualifications in 2021

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 January 2021

On Friday 15 January, Ofqual and the Department for Education published a joint consultation outlining detailed proposals for alternative arrangements for awarding general, vocational and technical qualifications in summer 2021.

This consultation, outlined in “Consultation on how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021” and ‘Consultation on alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other general qualifications in 2021”,will be open for two weeks ending on 29 January. Responses can be completed using the online response forms on www.gov.uk for GCSE, AS and A-levels and for vocational and technical qualifications.

In his statement to the House on 6 January, the Secretary of State confirmed proposals that students taking GCSE, AS and A-levels this summer should be awarded grades based on an assessment by their teachers. Teachers’ judgement will be based on a range of evidence; Ofqual and the Department will consult on the evidence needed to inform teachers’ assessments of their students’ grades, including providing externally set papers to support their assessments. Teachers will be provided with training and guidance to support them.

We recognise that students who are not studying within a school or college, for example because they are home educated, must be able to be issued with a grade. We are seeking views on the proposals that would enable them to do so.

The consultation also proposes both that exam boards should provide information for schools and colleges to inform their own quality assurance, and that the exam boards themselves should undertake checks of schools’ and colleges’ processes and the evidence for the grades submitted. We propose that all students will have a route to appeal their grades.

The approach set out in the consultation for vocational and technical qualifications which are taken instead of or alongside GCSEs, AS and A-levels is consistent with the approach for these qualifications. For other general qualifications, such as Core Maths, Pre-U and the International Baccalaureate, the consultation also proposes the awarding approach should be similar to GCSEs, AS and A-levels.

The consultation proposes that those vocational and technical qualifications with practical exams and assessments which are required to demonstrate occupational competence for employment and apprenticeships should continue to take place where they can be delivered in line with public health guidelines, including remotely.

“On-demand” assessments of shorter, focused qualifications such as Functional Skills that can be delivered in line with public health guidelines, including remotely, should be permitted to continue to proceed.

The consultation seeks the views of students, parents and carers, teachers, school and college leaders before decisions are made on final arrangements. We will also take into account the views of further and higher education and employers, to ensure that young people can move onto the next stage of their lives.

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