General Qualifications Bulletin - International - Issue 3

Tue Feb 16 10:18:00 UTC 2021
Pearson General Qualifications Bulletin

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I hope you are all continuing to stay safe and well. For those of you on half term holiday, 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.  

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.

Read more

International GCSE and International AS/A level

On 3 February we confirmed that we will use a robust alternative approach for International GCSE and International AS/A level 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, therefore we 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
  • Preferences on any subjects to add to the regular Pearson Edexcel International AS/A level October exam series (international schools/centres only).

Entries deadline

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

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 now that the 2021 exam series has been cancelled 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.

The link to do this can be found on our website. We will continue sending these on a fortnightly basis. During the weeks in-between we will be sending information out via the Exams Officers bulletins on a Wednesday.

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

 

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 understand that many of you are keen to understand the potential timescales of the work that will need to be undertaken this year, particularly now that the Ofqual consultation is closed.

The dates provided below are an estimated timeline based on what we know at present but will be subject to change.

  • 22 February: Ofqual announces outcome of consultation on how GCSE / A level grade should be awarded this year
  • 21 March: Entries deadline for all international centres entering GCSE, International GCSE, AS/A level, International AS/A Level
  • Ongoing: Updates, support and training from Pearson.

We know there are private candidates that have been working incredibly hard to prepare for exams and now that the 2021 exam series has been cancelled 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 May/June 2021 series as usual by 21 March 2021 to ensure that students receive their qualification grade this summer.

While the final arrangements for the May/June 2021 series are continuing to evolve, Awarding Organisations will be providing training, assessment materials and quality assurance processes to support you in making your 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 May/June 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 for the May/June 2021 series. 

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 May/June 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.

iPrimary and iLowerSecondary (iPLS) scheduled assessment options will be available in May/June 2021 as planned where local government public health guidance permits. We also intend to run the iPLS October 2021 series as normal.

iPrimary and iLowerSecondary provide excellent preparation for International GCSE but are not a required formal progression gateway. They have been, and will continue to be, optional assessments.

We want to reassure all students and parents that we are actively engaging with global universities and admissions bodies about the alternative assessment approach this year. We will continue to do this throughout the process.

We know that universities and qualification evaluators remain committed to upholding transparency and fairness to all students from every curriculum around the world in these uncertain times. They will provide feedback on how they will evaluate grades once we have finalised our process.

Universities are aware that students need reassurance that they will not be disadvantaged in their applications for admission and advance standing/credit.

Although it is very early in the process, some universities have already confirmed that they will welcome students with grades determined via the alternative assessment approach in 2021 and that they will hold the same value as exam-derived results.

 

The consultation outcome confirms that for GCSE English language, GCSE modern foreign languages and A level sciences (biology, chemistry, physics and geology), 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.

We will be aligning our approach to endorsements on international qualifications as far as possible and will share more details about the process and timeline for submitting endorsement grades for all qualifications in due course. 

We are actively engaging with global universities and admissions bodies about the approach to teacher assessed grades this year. We will continue to do this throughout the process. 

We know that universities and qualification evaluators remain committed to upholding transparency and fairness to all students from every curriculum around the world in these uncertain times. They will provide feedback on how they will evaluate teacher assessed grades once we have finalised our process. 
 
Universities are aware that students need reassurance that they will not be disadvantaged in their applications for admission and advance standing/credit. 

Although it is very early in the process, some universities have already confirmed that they will welcome students with teacher assessed grades and that they will hold the same value as exam-derived results. 

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