COVID-19 (Coronavirus) update

Last updated: 2 July 2020

During these extraordinary times, many teachers, learners and families have been feeling uncertain and anxious about the closure of schools and the cancellation of exams this summer. We know this has been extremely unsettling, and it remains our overwhelming priority to support you throughout this unprecedented situation.

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You’ll be aware from recent announcements that, in place of the May/June 2020 exam series, schools and colleges are being asked to provide a centre assessment grade for each student and the rank order of students within each grade.

This applies to general qualifications including GCSE, AS and A level, and the same principles will be applied to iPrimary, iLowerSecondary, International GCSE and International A Level.

You may have seen that Ofqual have released the outcomes of their consultation on the changes to 2021 examinations.

We are now working with Ofqual to finalise what this will look like for our Pearson Edexcel GCSEs, AS and A level exams next year. We will keep you up to date and share specific details as soon as Ofqual has confirmed those with us.

For the full proposed changes to the 2021 GCSEs, AS and A levels, please read the information published by Ofqual on 3 August 2020.

Is there anything around specific subjects that you are able to tell us at the moment? 

We have recently had confirmation from Ofqual about the 20-hour programming project for GCSE Computer Science. They have confirmed that the 'timetabled 20 hours' required for the programming project no longer has to be completed under supervised conditions. Students can now work on their project at home. In addition, we will not be requesting any students’ work in May 2021.    

We are updating our guidance documentation to reflect these changes along with additional information about the Head of Centre Declaration and authentication form.   

We will update subject pages, these FAQs and communicate through subject advisor and other subject channels as soon as there are any other confirmed updates for specific subjects.  

For our UK qualifications, we are working closely with JCQ and Ofqual to finalise arrangements for qualifications in autumn 2020. This work ensures that we will have clear and robust timelines in place, along with due consideration regarding which qualifications we will offer. 

On 30 June Ofqual published the outcome of its consultation into an additional GCSE, AS and A level exam series in autumn 2020.

They have announced that a full suite of exams will take place in the autumn. Full timings are still to be confirmed.

Ofqual announced on 15 April 2020 that they would have an open consultation on the exceptional arrangements for exam grading and assessment in 2020 and invited all schools and colleges to respond to online by 29 April 2020

The consultation covers GCSE, GCE AS and A level, Extended Project and Advanced Extension Award in Maths qualifications, as well as areas where further clarification is needed (such as Year 10 and Private Candidates).

Ofqual published the decisions from this consultation on 22 May and you can read them here.

Students who are in year 10 and below and have been entered for exams in May/June 2020 will be eligible to receive a Centre Assessment Grade and rank order this summer as part of their Centre’s submission. 

Read the latest Ofqual announcement as they have published initial decisions on GCSE and A level grading proposals for 2020. 

Ofqual publishes initial decisions on GCSE and A level grading proposals for 2020

Following the Ofqual consultation we wanted to provide you with more information about checking and updating your entries for General Qualifications:  

GCSE short course
AS and A Level
Foundation and Higher Project (FPQ and HPQ
Extended Project (EPQ) 
Advanced Extension Award in Maths Qualification 
Entry Level Certificate 
Mathematics in Context 
Digital Applications 
Edexcel Award in Mathematics
International GCSE 

Your statements of entry are available to view and download on Edexcel Online (EOL).  

We are asking that you ensure all information is correct and any entries or amendments are submitted no later than 15 May 2020. You can make all changes via standard method of either EDI or EOL.    

If you've already submitted amendment files, we'll continue to process these and, if we need to clarify anything with you, we'll be in touch. 

The deadline for withdrawing entries for the May/June exam series is 12 May 2020. Please note that, for students to receive a grade, they must still be entered for qualifications, as normal. 

NB: You will not be able to submit changes through EDI or EOL after 15 May. 

For the Summer 2020 exam series we will be collecting grades for the Entry Level Certificate (ELC) on Edexcel Online in the usual way by 15 May 2020. We know that this will be challenging. Please aim for 15 May but it is likely that the system will be open for longer. 

We have outlined the steps to follow below:

Where you have finished assessing candidates please enter ‘1’, ‘2’, or ‘3’ according to the level your student has achieved.

For candidates you have not finished assessing, review the evidence for the student (classwork, homework, completed assessments) and award a ‘grade’ of ‘1’, ‘2’ or ‘3’ using your professional judgement.

Once you have finished entering the grades on Edexcel Online, you must print out a copy of the ‘grades’ for your own records.

Please note: We will not be collecting a sample in Summer 2020. However, you should retain your students’ work in case we have queries about the data.

To provide you with time to plan ahead after further guidance is issued, we've decided to extend the deadline for withdrawing entries for the May/June exam series to 12 May 2020.

Please note that, for students to receive a grade, they must still be entered for qualifications, as normal.  

We remain committed to ensuring that all students internationally receive a result and a grade. As shared previously, we'll award grades to students of our international qualifications using the same principles as for the UK GCSE and A level qualifications.

Following announcements by Ofqual, we're moving forward with further detailed work to confirm how the Ofqual principles announced will be applied to our international qualifications (International GCSEs, International AS Levels and International A Levels).

We'll continue to engage with our international stakeholders throughout this process, and we'll share further details on this as soon as possible.  

In response to your feedback, we're pleased to confirm that we've made a number of additions to the Autumn series for International GCSE qualifications and some refinements to the January 2021 series.

These arrangements are available to all students using international qualifications, including new entries, deferrals and students wanting to re-sit from any previous exam series, including the May and June 2020 exam series and are subject to demand (see below for further details).

We'll be offering exams for all our International GCSE subjects in Autumn 2020 (exact dates and timetable to be confirmed).

This is an additional arrangement for 2020 only. We'll be running a focused January 2021 series of Mathematics A, Mathematics B, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

View all the subjects that will be available in the Autumn and January series:

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We'll continue to keep you updated as we know more around the timelines for the Autumn series, including entry deadlines. Please note that qualification subjects may be withdrawn if there is no demand by the entry deadline.

Please note: This applies to UK Independent schools delivering International GCSEs. The UK general qualifications (GCSEs and A levels) are not included and are part of the Ofqual consultation process, about which you can find more information below.

Find out how GCSEs, AS and A levels will be awarded in summer 2020

Ofqual consultation into vocational, technical and other general qualifications

Ofqual announced on 24 April 2020 that they would have an open consultation on the assessment and grading of vocational, technical and other general qualifications and invited all schools and colleges to respond to this online by 8 May 2020

Open consultation - Exceptional arrangements for assessment and grading in 2020

The consultation covers many of Pearson’s qualifications, including the BTEC Level 3 Nationals, BTEC Level 1 and 2 Firsts and Tech Awards, BTEC HNC/HND, Functional Skills (legacy version of Maths and English will be extended to 31 December 2020), Core Maths and competency-based qualifications. End Point Assessments are not covered by the consultation, although qualifications taken as part of an apprenticeship will be. 

Ofqual published the decisions from this consultation on 22 May and you can read them here.

Find out about awarding vocational and technical qualifications this summer

Autumn assessment opportunities for vocational and technical qualifications 

Ofqual have stated that where Awarding Organisations normally have an autumn assessment opportunity, they should continue to do so. They have also stated that there should be an autumn assessment opportunity where there is sufficient demand, or where it would be unfair not to. 

Most of our externally assessed units are available either on-demand, or in the January and May/June series, therefore we do not anticipate making additional opportunities available. We will revisit this based on Ofqual’s guidance, and whether there is sufficient demand for our vocational qualifications. We will keep you updated. 

We understand you may have questions about how the changes to the summer series will affect your qualification fees.

We'd like to share with you an overview of what your qualification fees cover. Please take a look at the visual guide we've put together to highlight what is included in the fees for General Qualifications (including GCSE, AS and A level) and Vocational Qualifications (including BTEC, Work-based Learning, Higher Nationals). We’re continuing to work through the impact of the cancellation of the 2020 exam series and once we fully understand the impact of this year’s changes on our costs, our intention remains that we will pass any net cost savings, where they exist, back to our customers as a credit on your account for future use.

We will update you again before the end of the summer term.

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At times like these, it’s important to look after ourselves physically and mentally. If you or your students are feeling stressed or anxious, take a look at the mindfulness and well-being support available to help you through this difficult time.

We know, you'll have many questions. To help with this, Ofqual has a comprehensive series of questions and answers that represent the agreed procedures and arrangements to-date.

In the meantime, if you'd like to speak to us directly, you can submit questions through our contact form or by calling +44 (0) 344 463 2535.

Further information and guidance

For further information on BTEC, Work-based Learning and Functional Skills, please read the questions and answers we have put together to help explain our current plans:

BTEC information and guidance

LCCI information and guidance

For further information and guidance, you can visit:

Ofqual updates to 2020 exams

Public Health England blog

Government guidance for educational settings

If you need to talk to us about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the effect on your centre and learners, Exam Officers can call us on +44 (0)344 463 2535. If you are a training provider or employer, you can call us on +44 (0)344 576 0045.