COVID-19 (Coronavirus) update

At this current time, we know that many teachers, learners and families are still feeling anxious about the continuing uncertainties that we are all facing right now.

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Supporting schools, colleges, learners and teachers with teaching and learning is one of our key priorities, and never more so than now and we've been working closely with Ofqual over recent months to finalise any changes to our qualifications and assessments for summer 2021. 

We're providing a range of information across subjects to help teachers understand the what this means for their subjects as well as support materials for both teachers and students to help in teaching and learning and preparation for summer 2021.    

Visit our Summer 2021 support page for full information and links to all the latest support.

In order to assist centres we have created a comprehensive guidance on the process for deriving grades this summer. This document provides an overview of the approach together with detail on each of the specific aspects – including quality assurance, grading and appeals. It is important that you take time work through the document and in the coming weeks we will do all that we can to support you in your understanding of it.

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We understand that the opportunity to sit exams is important to you and your students, and our recent consultation with you on this has helped us further understand your priorities. These included the need for contingency measures and flexibility, so that your students can get the grade they need to progress.  

We are pleased to confirm the following exam arrangements for International GCSE:  

  • we will be offering an additional series towards the end of 2021
  • this is an additional arrangement for 2021 only and exams are expected to take place in the months of November and December
  • we’ll be running a focused January 2022 series.  

Please look at the subject availability for International GCSE

We are in the process of undertaking our annual review of fees to determine the qualification fees for the academic year 2021/22 and will share these with you once they are available.  

Please note that all International GCSE November/December 2021 and January 2022 are subject to demand and will be removed from the offering if we do not have sufficient entries by the entry deadline. 

We know you will be keen to know more about the timetables and key dates for this series and we will be in touch as soon as we have these. 

The Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual have confirmed their approach for issuing grades in summer 2021. You can find more detailed information on their website, but we've summarised the main points below:

  • Exams will not go ahead as planned
  • A teacher-assessed grades approach will be used for all UK-regulated qualifications, including GCSE, AS and A level, AEA and Projects
  • Judgements will be quality-assured by awarding organisations
  • Teachers will collate a ‘basket of evidence’ for pupils expecting to receive a grade this summer
  • Students will be able to appeal their grades
  • Results days will be on 10 August for AS and A level and 12 August for GCSE.

We're providing information and support to help with grading candidates for our UK general qualifications and to understand how this applies to international general qualifications. 

To ensure you're kept fully informed, important information and updates will be shared with you via our website and our social media channels. We've provided detailed guidance, user guides and videos, as well as enhanced support and training to help you in making the best decisions. 

Details about the support available for all subjects are provided on our our Summer 2021 support page.

In addition, we're providing support, training and guidance documents via the Pearson Professional Development Academy . 

Below is the initial timeline of some of the key activities that we're working towards. We'll update this as more key dates become available.

On 25 February, the Department for Education and Ofqual confirmed that results will be issued to students in early August.

  • A level results will be issued on Tuesday 10 August 2021.
  • GCSE and International GCSE results will be issued to students on Thursday 12 August 2021.

As usual, exam boards will release results to centres on the preceding day.  

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It’s been another extraordinary and extremely challenging year and, whilst external assessments are again not taking place this summer, we know that for teachers it’s very different to last year.

We appreciate all that you're doing right now for your students. Behind the scenes, we're working hard to ensure that all the systems and processes are in place to enable the smooth implementation of the new assessment approach that Ofqual requires this year.

We know you're keen to find out as soon as possible the rebate on qualification fees for summer 2021. As you know, we've been required by the Department for Education, Ofqual and JCQ to implement changes to the awarding of grades this year. Whilst this means we've not had the costs of marking exam papers, we have taken on additional costs this year, and don't yet know the full extent of these.

Please take a look at our visual guide below that describes the additional training, support and processes we're providing for summer 2021 for our GCSE, AS and A level general qualifications.

You can also read through our frequently asked questions.

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Ofqual announced the outcomes of its consultation on the format of GCSE, AS and A level assessments for autumn 2021. On 14 May 2021, Ofqual confirmed that the adjustments that were due to be applied in summer 2021 will also apply to the autumn 2021 exam series for GCSE.  

You can read further information on our October/November 2021 exam series web page.

We would like to confirm that the next sitting for the Advanced Extension Award for Mathematics will be Summer 2022, and that this qualification is not available in the Autumn 2021 series. This was previously showing in the Autumn series provisional exam timetable and has now been removed. Please accept our apologies for any confusion.

Centres
We appreciate that arrangements are not yet clear for private candidates for summer 2021, however, centres should continue to make entries for private candidates as normal.

We will have more information once the arrangements for this summer have been confirmed by Ofqual, and you can see this on our Private candidates web page.

Learners
If you are a learner having difficulty finding a centre who is able to support you with your entries please go to our Private candidates web page.

We are compiling a list of centres who are able to support private candidates who were intending to sit exams this summer and will email you with further information once Ofqual have confirmed the arrangements in place for this summer. You can complete a form and we will email you with further information once Ofqual have confirmed the arrangements in place for this summer. 

It’s been a very challenging and uncertain year for all students, parents and carers and, with the cancellation of the summer exam series, we appreciate you will be keen to know what to expect over the coming months.

Take a look at our Support for students, parents and carers web page where we'll be providing you with information, support and guidance to help make the summer 2021 processes more transparent, and to help you understand what Ofqual and the Department for Education have asked your teachers to do to ensure that you receive a fair grade this summer.

We will also be sending regular email updates to parents and carers to keep you informed of the latest qualification news and developments for summer 2021.

Sign up to the parents and carers newsletter

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 fully understand teachers' need to plan their courses for the forthcoming academic year.

Ofqual has now finished consulting on arrangements for non-examined assessments in 2022. The consultation was on subjects with practical elements and the outcomes can be found on the Ofqual website

On 12 July Ofqual and the Department for Education published a joint consultation on proposed changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2022. This consultation closes at 11:45pm on 1 August 2021.

If you have any further questions and would 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.