General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 8 | Pearson qualifications

General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 8

29 April 2021

I hope you are keeping safe and have had another good week in your schools and colleges. I know 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 time to take breaks for your personal wellbeing.

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Our live support sessions are in full flow, and it is great to see so many of you attending. If you haven’t done so, please sign up to these sessions via the dedicated training page on the Proffessional Development Academy. Alternatively, you can view the sessions when they become available as on demand recordings (five days after the initial event and will be accessible through the Pearson Professional Development Academy). 

The deadline for submitting the centre policy is 30 April. If you haven’t already done so, please submit this as soon as possible, so we can respond to you if required. You can download editable centre policy documents on the JCQ website for UK qualifications, or on our Summer 2021 support web page.  

If you are sitting UK and International qualifications, you only need to submit one centre policy. Please ensure this covers all qualifications, including whether you intend to use unseen content and marking service for International GCSE. 

Last week, Ofqual released an update about the quality assurance stages and what their requirements are. Please ensure you read and understand the Quality assurance for GCSE, AS and A level: information for schools and colleges. We will provide you with more support about this in the coming weeks. 

Don’t forget to give us your feedback via our Summer 2021 feedback form - it really makes a difference to our thinking, so please feel free to let us know your thoughts. 

To ensure you have the latest information, please continue to visit our dedicated Summer 2021 support web 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

We are pleased to confirm that Entry Level Certificates will follow the same approach as UK qualifications this summer. You will need to submit the level (either 1, 2 or 3) that the learner achieves.

The ELC is based on externally-set assessments and tasks that are administered and marked by the centre and usually moderated by Pearson.

There is no set time for when each assessment or task is completed or how long the student takes to complete each test.

More information and exemplification can be found on our Entry Level Certificate web page. 

In previous bulletins we have outlined that the joint Ofqual and DfE consultation confirms that for GCSE English Language, GCSE modern foreign languages and A level sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), centres should determine and submit a separate grade or result for the endorsement. This result or grade should be based on work that has been completed towards the endorsement.

More guidance on what this means for individual subjects can be found via the links below:

The deadline for submitting the endorsement grade or result will be extended until 18 June 2021 in line with the submission deadline for teacher assessment grades.

examWizard is a free online exam preparation tool contains a bank of past Pearson Edexcel exam questions, mark schemes and examiners' reports for a range of GCSE, AS and A level subjects.

This service has now been updated to include exam papers for GCSE, AS and 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, and can be accessed instantly using your Edexcel Online account. If you don’t have an Edexcel Online account, please speak to your exams officer.

The timeline for UK qualifications are updated regularly on our 2021 Key dates and deadlines document (PDF, 0.1 MB). 

Key dates for the next two weeks:

  • 26 April
    Private Candidates entry deadline
  • 30 April
    Centre policy submission deadline
    Request for modified versions of additional assessments deadline

The Joint Council for Qualifications have released comprehensive guidance on the process for deriving grades this summer (PDF, 1.5 MB). This guidance, along with our support, will be an important document as centres work to determine grades for UK qualifications in summer 2021.

Our 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, subject support guides, like the example in the screenshot below, can now be found on the individual qualification pages. Please make sure that all teachers have seen these guides. Full details and links to each qualification can be found on our Summer 2021 support web page under the ‘Summer 2021 Grading Support’ section.  

We are 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. 

Book your place now

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 student 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. 

The additional assessment materials for GCSE, AS and A levels (with the exception of Art and Design) have now been made publicly available on our website for students to download. These consist of question papers and mapping grids and can be used by students to support their studies over the next few months.

They can be downloaded from the 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

Please share the support for students, parents and carers information with your students and their parents and carers.

JCQ has issued Interim guidance for private candidate centres (PDF, 0.7 MB) offering GCSEs, AS and A levels, outlining those elements of the assessment process that are particularly relevant for private candidates.  

JCQ have also created a list of centres that will be able to support entries for private candidates for GCSE, AS and A levels. To make sure that private candidates have sufficient time to make entries, we will be waiving late fees for private candidates up to 26 April. 

DfE has issued details of its private candidate support grant, which will provide £200 for eligible centres in England accepting private candidate entries for GCSEs, AS and A levels to cover the additional costs of assessment this summer. This will ensure that private candidates who are eligible for the scheme do not need to pay more for their entry this year than they would in a normal year. 

The cancellation of summer 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 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 

  • January 2021 - International GCSE. 

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

The updated guidance on awarding results in 2021 can be found on our Awarding results in 2021 web page

You will find videos of briefings and Q&A sessions with additional detail, alongside the guidance.   

If you’d like to find out the latest information and support for our vocational qualifications, please take a look at our Supporting FE during Coronavirus web page where you can find news and updates, with links to our regular VQ Bulletin which contains all the key updates you need for our vocational qualifications. 


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