Autumn 2023 support

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On this page we’ll provide updates and information from Ofqual, the Department for Education (DfE), the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) and Pearson, relating to the exams and assessments for our GCSE, AS and A level qualifications.

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From announcements and news to support materials and updates, we’ll make sure you have all the information and tools you need to teach our qualifications, help your students with their assessments and post-results support, to enable them to progress.

Autumn 2023

With the autumn term in full swing we've put together some information you'll need for this term, including key dates, Subject Advisor support, professional development courses and how to get in touch with us.

On Thursday 16 November Ofqual announced a consultation on the use of formulae and equations sheets for 2024.  

Ofqual would like to hear your views on whether the use of formulae sheets and revised equation sheets as used in 2022 and 2023 in GCSE mathematics, physics and combined science should be continued for students taking these exams in England in 2024. 

The consultation closes on 30 November.

Please go to the Ofqual consultation and have your say

On 20 November, Ofqual published its updated guidance for schools, colleges and other exam or assessment centres on qualifications arrangements for 2024.  

On the same day they also published their updated student guide for 2024.  

The guides cover both GCSEs, AS, A levels, other general qualifications, and vocational and technical qualifications. 

JCQ have produced new guidance for centres on cyber security in order to safeguard sensitive information, including personal student data, and to protect the integrity of secure assessments.  

In today's digital landscape, it is crucial to adhere to industry best practices to mitigate the risk of cyber threats. Please read the information provided by JCQ that includes key guidelines that align with industry standards and will help protect your digital assets.  

This autumn sees our first November series for International GCSEs. This series was introduced to best meet the needs of students requiring International GCSE exam opportunities outside of the full May/June series and it replaces the previous January series.

Ofqual Guidance on collecting evidence of student performance to ensure resilience in the qualifications system for GCSE, AS and A levels, Project Qualifications and AEA. This guidance also applies to our Edexcel Level 3 Mathematics in Context (Core Maths) and Edexcel Awards in Mathematics. 

Summary for Pearson Centres 

On 21 September 2023, Ofqual published the resilience guidance for centres delivering: GCSE, AS and A levels, Project Qualifications and Advanced Extension Award in maths (AEA). This guidance also applies to our Edexcel Level 3 Mathematics in Context (Core Maths) and Edexcel Awards in Mathematics. We will provide specific guidance on resilience arrangements for other qualifications, including Technical Qualifications in T Levels, where necessary.  

The guidance lays down the arrangements that schools and colleges are asked to make to provide resilience in the exam system, in the unlikely event that the government determines that exams are not able to go ahead in future.   

Centres should read the guidance in full to ensure they understand the details of the arrangements.  

The guidance asks that schools and colleges:  

  • ensure students sit mock exams in exam conditions and that these are retained, either digitally or physically
  • aim to complete assessments in the first half of the academic year where possible
  • plan assessment opportunities to gather evidence of student performance in line with their usual assessment approaches
  • provide assessment content, similar to that which students would expect in their summer exams, and across the assessment objectives for the qualification
  • plan for total assessment time that does not normally exceed the total time students would spend taking exams/non-exam assessment for the relevant qualification
  • provide assessments that are similar to full or parts of the exam papers students are preparing to take next summer, based on exam board materials as far as possible
  • continue to allow private candidates to register with them in the usual way
  • apply the same reasonable adjustments for disabled students as would be made for summer assessments, retaining records of the adjustments and the reasons for them
  • record any special consideration issues (such as illness or family bereavement) so that these can be taken into account when determining a grade, if necessary
  • make it clear to students that it is expected that exams and formal assessments will go ahead as planned
  • make it clear to students that any assessment evidence collected and retained will be used to determine grades only in the unlikely situation that exams and formal assessment could not go ahead
  • make it clear to students, before they take any assessment, whether their performance in the assessment would be used as part of evidence to determine a grade for them if exams cannot go ahead as planned
  • ensure that students are assessed under exam-like conditions wherever possible i.e. supervised, working independently, under timed conditions etc. 

The guidance asks that teachers: 

  • mark the assessments in line with published exam board mark schemes and guidance where appropriate
  • not use grade boundaries from autumn 2020 and 2021 and summer 2022 when they are providing an indicative grade for students
  • provide students with feedback, which could include marks or comments
  • make it clear to students that any grade used to indicate the level at which the student has performed is not an indication of what their final grade would be if it became necessary to award a qualification using the evidence
  • make it clear that it is not possible to determine a final qualification grade unless Ofqual sets specific guidance on this, which Ofqual will do only if exams do not go ahead
  • support their students to complete non-exam assessment (NEA), in line with the timescales set by exam boards
  • record the reason for any late identification of reasonable adjustments and where possible allow the student to take a different, but equivalent, assessment with the reasonable adjustment in place.  

Teachers may tell the student the grade at which their performance in the assessment indicates they have performed.  

On 15 September 2023 the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) updated its ‘Instructions for the Conduct of Qualifications’ document for the 2023/24 academic year to provide more clarity to candidates, exam officers and teachers given recent changes in technology. 

In particular, the use of calculators in exams has been updated in Section 10 ‘Using calculators’. The use of calculators applies to a number of different subjects so please do pass this information to all who need to read it.

Full details can be found in the in the JCQ booklet 'Instructions for conducting examinations 2023-2024'. There is also a set of FAQs about using calculators.

Please visit the the JCQ website

Year round support

We'll be updating this page regularly and provide news and information in our monthly Pearson qualifications bulletin. For subject-specific support, please do stay in touch with your Subject Advisors or you can also contact us directly if you have any other queries.

Exams officer support

Read the latest Pearson qualifications bulletin

Contact your Subject Advisor

Contact our customer service team