General Qualification Bulletin - International - Issue 8 | Pearson qualifications

General Qualification Bulletin - International - Issue 8

29 April 2021

I hope you are keeping safe and well as the global pandemic continues to impact international schools around the world.

These are challenging times and we know that getting to grips with the approach to assessment for this series has created extra pressure for you and your colleagues – thank you for all your hard work. Many of you are busy finalising centre policy submissions and are starting to collate the evidence to support determining grades this summer, but I hope you find the time to take some breaks and enjoy some leisure time.

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The deadline for submitting the centre policy is 30 April 2021, so if you haven’t already done so, please get this completed and submit it to us by the deadline so that we can review it and respond to you if required. You can find the editable document on the JCQ website for UK qualifications or on our Summer 2021 support web page for International qualifications.  Where you are running both UK and International qualifications you only need to submit one policy to us but please ensure it covers all qualifications and whether you intend to use the unseen content and marking service for International GCSE and International AS/A level.

Many of you have had questions about forthcoming deadline dates so we have put together this 2021 Key dates and deadlines document (PDF, 0.1 MB) for both our UK and International qualifications. We will also continue to summarise forthcoming deadline dates in these fortnightly bulletins.

It was great that so many of you could attend our live international updates which provided information and guidance on the process including grading, quality assurance, and appeals. Thank you for all your great questions that were either submitted before or during the session. If you were unable to make one of the sessions, or would like to watch again, the recording of the session will be made available soon on the Pearson Professional Development Academy. 

You may have also noticed that last week Ofqual released an update about the quality assurance stages and what will be required. It is important to read this and the update can be found on the Ofqual website. We are committed to providing you with more support about this in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget to give us your feedback - we are always keen to hear your thoughts on what extra support you think may be helpful and we are committed to meeting your needs as far as we are able to do so.  Please submit any suggestions or feedback via the Summer 2021 feedback form and we will make sure this features in our thinking over the coming weeks. 

To ensure you have the latest information, please continue to visit our dedicated support web page, and follow us on Twitter (@ PearsonEdexcel) and  Facebook  to keep up to date. If you would like to speak to us directly, you can get in touch with any questions via our contact form, or by calling the relevant team for your role.   

My thanks again to you and your colleagues for the amazing work you are doing every day. 

Hayley White 
Assessment Director

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As we’ve previously communicated, one of the forms of evidence that Pearson are making available is the optional use of unseen test materials. These test materials can be used in two ways: As unseen materials presented to students in a controlled situation, in a specified timeframe, for them to respond to, or 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.

The unseen assessment window has started and is open until 14 May.  

How should I use the assessments?Assessments must be used according to the schedule that is available on our Timetables web page and in line with the approach that is outlined in your centre policy.  If you are planning on adapting the assessments this can only be done after the scheduled day the assessment is due to be sat.

What if a candidate cannot sit the assessment?If a candidate cannot sit the assessment then please mark them as absent when you return the scripts to us.

When will mark schemes be available?Mark schemes will be available from 17 May 2021.  Our Principal Examiners may refine the mark schemes and final published mark schemes will be released on 4 June. It is acceptable to use the mark schemes released on 17 May to mark assessments.

As well as using the support we’re providing to help with your grading decisions this summer, you may also wish to use examWizard, our free online exam preparation tool that contains a bank of past Pearson Edexcel exam questions, mark schemes and examiners' reports for a range of GCSE, International GCSE, AS and A level, and International AS/A level subjects.

This service has now been updated to include exam papers for GCSE, International GCSE, AS and A level, and International AS/A level for the 2019 summer and autumn series and the 2020 autumn series.

You can create your own mock exams, topic tests, homework or revision activities in minutes, and it links directly to associated examiner reports and mark schemes. Free all year round, you just need an Edexcel Online account in order to access it. If you don’t have an Edexcel Online account, please speak to your exams officer. 

Take a look at examWizard.

A link to the latest timeline for international qualifications can be found on in the 2021 Key dates and deadlines documennt (PDF, 0.1 MB) - we do continue to add dates so please do use it for your reference.  

Forthcoming key dates: 

  • 26 April: Unseen assessment schedule now open
  • 30 April: Policy submission via proforma on PAAO (Pearson Access Arrangements Online) system.
  • 4 May: Additional Assessment Support – mapping grids, grade descriptors released under padlock on Pearson website.
  • 14 May: Unseen assessment schedule final day
  • 17 May: Unseen Assessment mark schemes released under padlock.

For our international qualifications, including International A Level and International GCSE, Pearson have produced a comprehensive guidance document (PDF, 1.4 MB) on the process for deriving grades this summer.

For UK qualifications, including GCSE, AS and A levels, the Joint Council for Qualifications have released a comprehensive guidance document (PDF, 1.5 MB) on the process for deriving grades this  summer.

We know it’s a busy time in schools at the moment and work towards determining grades for this summer is only one of the many things taking place. So, in order to help centres work through and understand the detail of this guidance, we have pulled out ten key areas to note (PDF, 0.1 MB) from the document, which we hope will be useful.

This is a purpose-built portal which will allow you to easily upload and submit candidate work directly to us. We hope that this will be beneficial to you as you will be able to review and track everything that has been submitted to us within an individual exam series.  

What do I need to submit? ​​

Qual Subject Name Subject Paper

What files does the portal accept?
The portal accepts most of the popular file types including mp3, mp4 and Jpeg. A full list of accepted filetypes can be found here.  You may need to convert the file to a .zip folder in some instances.

Where can I access the portal? 
The portal can be accessed via your Edexcel Online account under ‘Learner Work Transfer’ and then via ‘Examination/Moderation’.      
Please view the following YouTube video for a step by step guide.

If you don’t have access to Edexcel Online please contact your national distributor or Pearson regional office.    

When will the portal be available?
Access to the portal will be available to centres from 26 May 2021

How does the portal work?
We have created a step by step video guide on how you can use the portal.

If you would like to speak to us directly, you can get in touch with any questions via our Support Portal.

Our Pearson Professional Development Academy has detailed guidance and support in the form of checklists, video presentations, infographics and step- by-step guides to support you in determining fair grades for your students so they can progress on to their next stage.

In addition to this, teaching support like the example in the screenshot below can now be found on the individual subject pages where relevant (with more being added in the coming days and weeks).

Please make sure that all teachers have seen this guidance.

Full details and links can be found on our Summer 2021 support web page under the ‘Summer 2021 Grading Support’ section.

The arrangements for awarding grades to students in summer 2021 include internal and external quality assurance measures which aim to ensure that, on results day, students are issued with fair and consistent grades that have been objectively reached. Sharing information with students about the evidence being used as part of a centre’s grade determination process is important and should help to avoid issues that may otherwise arise when results are issued.  

Students will be able to appeal their grade. A student who is unhappy with their grade will first ask their centre to check whether an administrative or procedural error had been made.
Where a centre does identify an error in the grade submitted to the exam board, it can submit a revised grade and a rationale for the board to consider. If the exam board is satisfied with the rationale, it will issue a revised grade. 

Where a centre does not believe an error had been made, a student can ask the centre to appeal to the exam board on their behalf. The centre will submit the student’s appeal to the exam board and provide the evidence on which its judgement had been made; the exam board will consider whether, in its view, the grade reflected a reasonable exercise of academic judgement – both in terms of the evidence selected, and the overall grade awarded. 

If the exam board judges that it did not, the exam board will determine the grade that the evidence would support, or will refer the case back to the centre to take further action. The exam board will also check that the centre had followed its own process.

We’re also providing live and pre-recorded support and guidance events via our Professional Development Academy as well as running optional Q&A sessions. All our sessions will be recorded and made available as soon as possible after each event. These events are now live and open for booking and we encourage you to sign up for these.

A reminder that there is a Support for students, parents and carers web page, where you can also find:

  • video from our Assessment Director, Hayley White, that explains how grades will be determined this year
  • feedback form so students, parents and carers can provide get in touch to give us feedback or suggest any further support materials they may find useful. 

As mentioned in the last bulletin, the cancellation of summer (May/June) 2020 exams means we have a number of unused packs of question papers that, in the interests of both sustainability and saving you time printing your own copies, we are making available to centres. 

These past papers can now be ordered via our new online portal, where they are available on a first come first served basis until exhausted. 

Subject to availability, question papers can be ordered in denominations of 5, 10 or 20.

There will be a small charge to cover the administration and courier costs per order. Charges will be calculated at a rate of 20p per paper for orders up to £40, and then 10p per paper for orders over £40. 

Question papers are available for general qualifications:

  • October and November 2020 - GCSE, International GCSE, AS and A level, International AS/A level
  • January 2021 - International GCSE and International AS/A level.

You can find out more in our recent Past papers communication and on our Past papers web page.

As you work through the process of determining grades this summer we are keen to hear your thoughts on what extra support you think may be helpful and we are committed to meeting your needs as far as we are able to do so.

Please submit any suggestions or feedback via the 2021 Summer support feedback form, and we will make sure this features in our thinking over the coming weeks.


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