General Qualification Bulletin - UK Independent Schools - Issue 3

16 February 2021

I hope you are all continuing to stay safe and well.

As many schools and colleges arrive at the end of their first half term of 2021 we hope that you get a chance to take a break and reflect on the successes of an incredibly challenging time.

To ensure we are able to give you all the support you need over the coming months I have been speaking with some of you and I continue to be blown away by the dedication and commitment to supporting learners in spite of the challenges that Covid-19 continues to present.

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International GCSE

On the 3 February we confirmed that we will use a robust alternative approach for International GCSE assessment in May/June 2021 and exams will not go ahead as planned.

Our priorities throughout this pandemic have been to keep everyone safe and well and to ensure fairness so that every student receives a grade that reflects their knowledge and understanding.

You should continue to teach your students, and we will ensure that you are fully supported as we work through the next steps. 

We understand that exams remain important to you and your students and we therefore also intend to run an additional focused exam series for International GCSE later in the year.

We would like to invite you to participate in this consultation, launching today, to help us understand your needs and priorities in relation to additional exam opportunities in 2021. Your feedback will be used to support decisions regarding:  

  • preferred timeframe for an additional series for Pearson Edexcel International GCSE.

Entries Deadline 

The entry deadline is rapidly approaching, and it is important that you make your entries for the summer 2021 series for GCSE, AS and A level by 21 February and for International GCSE by 21 March, to ensure that students receive their qualification grade this summer.

Schools and colleges must make entries to the relevant Awarding Organisation for the specification that your students have studied.  

Where you may be supporting private candidates I would also advise you to make entries for them to enable their progression.  

I appreciate that the arrangements are not yet clear for private candidates but they are an important part of our thinking around awarding grades this summer. We will not penalise private candidates making entries or withdrawing after the deadline and until 22 March. 

Private candidates

I know there are private candidates that have been working incredibly hard to prepare for exams and they will be feeling anxious about how they will receive a qualification grade this summer.

We are committed to supporting all students, including private candidates and we have been speaking with professional bodies that represent private candidates to ensure their voice is heard.  We will share specific details once the arrangements for this summer have been confirmed by Ofqual.

Please take a look at our private candidates web page for the latest information. 

Lastly, I also recommend that you encourage any other colleagues or professionals to sign up to these bulletins.

To ensure you have the latest information, please continue to visit our dedicated support page, and follow us on Twitter (@ PearsonEdexcel) 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

As well as the support and guidance that we are committed to sharing over the coming weeks and months you can find our latest guidance and information on our website.

We know there are private candidates that have been working incredibly hard to prepare for exams and that they will be feeling anxious about how they will receive a qualification grade this summer.  We are currently awaiting the outcome of the UK Ofqual consultation about how grades will be issued this summer, which includes specific consideration for private candidates.

Although arrangements are not yet clear for private candidates for summer 2021, centres should continue to make entries for private candidates as normal. We are committed to supporting all students, including private candidates, and will share specific details once the arrangements for this summer have been confirmed by Ofqual, Please take a look at our private candidates web page for the latest information. 

The entry deadline is rapidly approaching, and it is important that you make your entries for the summer 2021 series for GCSE, AS and A level by 21 February and for International GCSE by 21 March, to ensure that students receive their qualification grade this summer.

While the final arrangements for assessment of GCSE, International GCSE, AS and A levels in summer 2021 are continuing to evolve, Awarding Organisations will be providing training, assessment materials and quality assurance processes to support you in making your teacher assessment decisions.

We will work closely with you and provide all the support you need to ensure that students receive grades this summer that fairly reflect what they know, understand and can do. We are monitoring closely the impact of arrangements as they finalise, and as with this past summer, we will be passing on any net savings, where they exist, to you after the summer assessments.  

The Joint Council of Qualifications has released an update on their website about the latest position regarding non-examined assessment.  

In announcing their consultation on the alternative assessment arrangements for summer 2021, Ofqual have confirmed that students should be given the opportunity to continue to complete work on their non-exam assessments (NEA) while the consultation is ongoing. This is so that student performance on the NEA can contribute to the evidence teachers use to recommend the grade the student will receive in summer 2021.  

To facilitate this, we have agreed that centres may allow students to undertake their NEA remotely. This is in addition to the adaptations to NEA that have already been announced and are available on our website following Ofqual's earlier consultation about the revised arrangements for summer 2021. Students may complete their NEA from home or remotely where it is safe and possible for them to do so.  
 
It is important that students are reminded that the work must be their own, with assistance acknowledged. It is also important that teachers can authenticate work completed for NEA, so regular checks, through question & answers sessions and online video conferencing, for example, will be required for written or practical work.  

For performance work, teachers should authenticate by supervising candidates' performances via live video conference, though, depending on the subject, it might be appropriate instead for teachers to review video or audio recordings, photographic or written evidence and have a discussion with the candidate about their work.  

Centres must follow their own risk assessment and safeguarding policies when allowing candidates to complete NEA remotely. Candidates must only complete NEA remotely when it is safe and possible for them to do so. For some performance or practical NEA components, therefore, it may be necessary to limit the NEA that is conducted at home to those parts of it that can be completed safely.  

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