Summer 2021 support
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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
    • 12 August for GCSE.

We know that you're keen to start preparing for grading candidates for our UK general qualifications and to understand how this applies to international general qualifications. We'll make sure that you’ll have everything you need for each individual qualification at the very earliest opportunity.

To ensure you're kept fully informed, important information and updates will be shared with you via this web page and our social media channels. We'll provide detailed guidance, user guides and videos as soon as possible, as well as enhanced support and training to help you in making the best decisions. This support will be delivered in stages and we'll let you know as soon as this becomes available.

In addition, we'll be providing support and guidance documents via the Pearson Professional Development Academy as well as running training sessions.

Access 2021 training and support

More detail on the Department for Education and Ofqual approach for arriving at grades this year can be found on their website.

Approach for International GCSE and International AS/A Level (May/June 2021 series)

To ensure fairness for all students around the world, we want to ensure parity with our UK qualifications and so will align the evidence-based approach for international qualifications with the approach for UK qualifications, as far as it is sensible to do so.

We also recognise that there are a range of circumstances faced by international schools and we're committed to providing assessment materials, services, support and guidance to ensure that you can proceed with confidence.

Student grades will be derived by teachers and centres, with support throughout from Pearson. With our support, it will be possible to use a variety of evidence to inform the grade that will be submitted to Pearson.

We want to ensure that you have access to assessment materials that will enable objective and fair judgements to be made about student performance; we've also heard from you that you want us to support you in translating evidence-based judgements into grades.

Unseen test materials for International GCSE and International AS/AS Level

One of the forms of evidence that will be made available is the optional use of unseen test materials. We will send unseen test materials to all centres – teachers and students will be familiar with the style of the materials as they will look like question papers used in a normal exam series. The materials will need to be kept securely, until a specified date, and we'll provide details of what you'll need to do in due course – it will be very similar to how you typically deal with exam materials.

These test materials can then be used in two ways; firstly, as unseen materials presented to students in a controlled situation, in a specified timeframe, for them to respond to; or secondly, after the specified timeframe, in the knowledge that they may be familiar to students, used as one part of the evidence that supports the teacher grade – we'll provide more detail on each of these options in the coming weeks.

To support the use of these unseen materials we'll be offering an optional marking service where our expert examiners will mark your student responses. We'll mark the test materials and return a mark to you for your consideration when deriving the student grade. We'll provide you with support to understand how the mark aligns with performance descriptors so that you can be confident in your understanding of the mark. This will be an optional service and, if you'd prefer to mark the materials yourself, we'll be providing mark schemes and training materials so that you can do so with confidence.

The approach for this series will be underpinned by a quality assurance process that focuses on helping you to make judgements, based on evidence, that are objective and consistent. There will be several different stages, and we'll provide an update as soon as we can, but we're committed to ensuring that it's supportive and not overly burdensome.

We know that you are keen to start preparing for grading candidates for our UK General Qualifications, and we are fully committed to making sure you’ll have everything you need for each individual qualification at the very earliest opportunity.

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

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We know that you are keen to start preparing for grading candidates for our UK General Qualifications. We’ll be releasing more guidance by the end of March about how you can use all the available evidence to arrive at a student's grade. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue teaching and learning with your students in support of any grading decisions for this summer.

To support you with student grading, we will be providing further guidance about how you can use a range of assessment materials to help you in your grading decisions. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue teaching and learning and to use current assessment materials with your students to support grading decisions this summer.

To help you, we will be releasing more guidance by the end of March about the Quality assurance process, how it will operate and what it will mean for schools and colleges.

Further guidance about the Appeals process, how it will operate and what it will mean for schools and colleges, will be released at the end of April.

We are committed to ensuring that we provide training that supports everyone involved in deriving grades to be confident that they are free from bias. This training will be available by the end of March and in time to support schools and colleges before they arrive at any grading judgements.

The DfE is currently exploring ways to make sure there are affordable opportunities for private candidates to work with centres, and to encourage centres to work with private candidates. Once the DfE has completed its review, we will be working with other awarding organisations to provide a list of centres offering to support private candidates through the assessment process, including details of the subjects they can offer. We expect this list to be available before the end of March.

We can assure private candidates that they will not need to pay higher entry fees if, as a result of this, they need to make their entry after the extended entry deadline.

We will also be providing further information for centres on how best to support private candidates, including guidance on the selection of assessment evidence. This will be available at the end of March.

Visit our dedicated Private candidates page for further information and support

Supporting students, parents and carers throughout 2021 is a top priority and it's important to us that all students receive a fair grade. We'll make sure you have clear information and guidance on how we're supporting your teachers to help them make their grading decisions, and will have lots of other support on our webpage dedicated to students, parents and carers.

Visit our dedicated web page for further information and support