General Qualifications Bulletin - International - Issue 5 | Pearson qualifications

General Qualifications Bulletin - International - Issue 5

3 March 2021
Pearson General Qualifications Bulletin

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Our last bulletin provided an update on the approach that we will adopt for International GCSEs and International AS/A Levels following the confirmed UK qualifications approach. This will be a robust approach based on teacher assessment using a range of evidence, such as mock exams, past papers, coursework, essays, and classwork as well as optional unseen content. 

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Our next bulletin will be published on 31 March and by this time we will be able to share further details on the  additional assessment materials and the quality assurance processes that will be in place this summer.   

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

It’s important that you make your entries as usual by 21 March 2021 to ensure that students receive their qualification grade for this series.  

For International AS and A Levels, please remember to also enter your students for the relevant cash in to ensure they receive an overall qualification result in August. 
We appreciate that you may have queries about fee arrangements. We are investing in training, assessment materials and quality assurance processes to support you in making your teacher assessment decisions. We’d like to reassure you that we will be passing on any net savings, where they exist, to you. We can confirm that UK and international centres will follow the same approach for the UK GCSE and AS/A level qualifications. 

As outlined in our previous bulletin we will be providing optional unseen content to support the provision of teacher assessed grades in May/June.   

These test materials can be used in two ways: 

1. As unseen materials presented to students in a controlled situation, in a specified timeframe, for them to respond to


2. 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. 

Individual countries can choose to mandate these optional elements and will communicate their decisions directly with their schools. In countries where the Ministry of Education does not choose to mandate an approach, the decision can made by schools who will communicate directly with students. 

We will start to dispatch unseen content materials from 9 April for delivery into centres before 26 April.  We will track all deliveries and work with you should we see any delays in transit. For late entries, made after 21 March, you will need to print from our secure download service (SDS), if you require materials to be sent via secure file transfer (SFT) please contact our customer services team on 00 44 120 477 0696. 

Please remember that these materials are secure until the dates specified and should be treated in the same way as any other examination materials. 

The specified dates for the use of unseen content will be published on our website on 23 March. 

To support the use of these unseen materials, we'll be offering an optional marking service where our expert examiners will mark your students’ 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. 

We’ll be sharing details of how to confirm that you’d like to utilise the optional marking service in the International Exams Officer update next week. 

Attendance registers will be supplied to all centres regardless of whether they are using the optional marking service or not. The registers will also include returns labels for those wishing to return papers for marking. Please only return your completed attendance registers where you would like to make use of our marking service, indicating any students as absent if you are not returning a paper for every candidate entered.

We will not be providing our usual stationery such as bags for returning scripts, if you would like to use the marking service and require returns bags, these can be ordered by completing our additional stationery request form

We will be providing modified unseen content to support students this May/June. If you submitted a modified order before 21 March for large print or interactive materials PDF formats will be available via our secure download service (SDS). Tactile and braille assessments will be dispatched from 9 April.  If you require models & shapes for any of our International GCSE, AS or A Level Maths assessments please email by 29 March. 

We’ve been listening to feedback from students, parents and carers and we know they are keen to be kept informed about the assessment process this year and any additional support that we’ll be producing to help them navigate the coming months. 

Our Assessment Director, Hayley White, has recorded a video that explains how grades will be determined this year and we’ve created a support page for students, parents and carers on our website.

We’ll use this to provide information, support and guidance to help make the summer 2021 process more transparent, and it will be updated regularly. You can also download a student-friendly timeline (PDF, 0.1 MB) that provides details and key dates for the awarding of GCSE, International GCSE, International AS/A Level, and AS and A levels this summer.  

In addition we have a created a form so students, parents and carers can provide feedback to us or suggest any further support materials they may find useful.   

Please do share this information with your students and encourage parents and carers to take a look.

We know that you are already doing a tremendous job and are keen to start work on preparing for grading your students. We'll be providing detailed guidance and support in the form of video presentations, infographics and step by step guides to ensure you are able to give your students fair grades so they can progress on to their next stage. This will include how to reach grading decisions, the creation of assessment materials, the quality assurance process and appeals, along with the general support around timelines and submission systems.

We’ll also provide support and guidance documents via our Professional Development Academy as well as running optional Q&A sessions which we will record and make available. You can sign up now to be sure you’re informed as soon as training material becomes available. 

We’ve not seen any new dates or deadlines confirmed since the last bulletin, but please refer to this timeline (PDF, 0.1 MB) on our website that we’ll keep updated as things progress.

In the last bulletin we outlined that the joint Ofqual and DfE consultation outcome 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.  

 It has since been agreed by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) and all exam boards, that 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.  

We will be aligning our approach to endorsements for our international qualifications, and so the deadline of 18 June 2021 also applies to the endorsements for our International GCSEs. 

We are finalising subject specific guidance on endorsements and will be sharing this with you by the end of March. 

We are engaging regularly with our global university contacts about the teacher assessed grades process and support for private candidates. We can now share example feedback from some popular destinations for Pearson Edexcel students. Some of this guidance has been provided directly to our Progression and Recognition team or is available on university websites. 

> Read more about this guidance

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.  

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

We are committed to ensuring that there is a robust solution for private candidates. We will 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. 

Centres should continue to make entries for private candidates as normal. The withdrawal deadline for June 2021 is 21 April so if you feel you are unable to give a result to a private candidate, you can withdraw by this date and receive credit for the subject fee paid. 

We appreciate that the arrangements are not yet clear for private candidates and so we will not penalise private candidates making entries up to 22 March and withdrawing prior to 22 April.  

Further information on how to ensure that late fees are not incurred can be found on our Private candidates page.


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