General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 20 | Pearson qualifications

General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 20

17 November 2021

Dear Colleague,

It has been a busy few weeks of announcements since I last wrote to you so there is some important new information in this edition. We have had confirmation of the contingency arrangements for both UK and International qualifications should exams be cancelled in May/June 2022. I would like to reiterate that we are fully committed to exams taking place and that these arrangements are for the exceptional circumstances that exams could not take place.

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For UK qualifications, including GCSE, AS and A level, the Department for Education and Ofqual have decided that if exams have to be cancelled in summer 2022, students’ grades would instead be determined by their teachers, using an approach similar to that used in summer 2021. For International qualifications, including International GCSE we can confirm that our intention is that exams will go ahead. If there are countries in which COVID restrictions prevent exams taking place, we have confirmed the contingency arrangement that grades will again be based on a portfolio of evidence. This portfolio would include at least one complete set of past papers, that is then submitted by centres to us. More information about the approaches can be found below, in the UK consultation outcomes and also on our Summer 2022 support web page. 

The outcomes of the consultation about adaptations for assessments in 2022 for regulated qualifications can be found on the Department for Education website. Advance Information will be released no later than 7 February 2022 but could be earlier, depending on any Department for Education and Ofqual decisions based on any change in the severity of the pandemic. The release of Advance Information for international qualifications will follow this same timeline. I strongly recommend viewing the JCQ information document for advance information if you have not already done so – this document specifically refers to the regulated qualifications, however, we will apply the same principles to the advance information provided for our international qualifications. Our guidance and support on these is available on our Summer 2022 support web page along with some useful frequently asked questions

I would also like to draw your attention to our research about the Future of Assessment. The events of last summer and preparations for this have provoked many questions around assessment, including fairness and equity for young people. Assessment remains high on the agenda and it is against this backdrop we are looking at the longer-term role of assessment in schools and colleges. You can read more about the project and our interim report as we move into the next phase of the research.

For information on summer 2022 please visit our dedicated Summer 2022 support page. If you have any questions that relate to summer 2021 then please visit our Summer 2021 support page. 

You can also 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.

Hayley White 
Assessment Director 

The Department for Education and Ofqual have decided as a matter of policy that, although the government is firmly committed to exams going ahead in summer 2022, there needs to be a contingency plan in place for the unlikely event that exams have to be cancelled again because of the pandemic. If exams have to be cancelled in summer 2022, students’ grades would instead be determined by their teachers, using a Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) approach similar to that used in summer 2021. TAGs would be based on teachers’ assessment of their students’ work. Detailed information on how TAGs would be determined in summer 2022 will only be published if exams are cancelled. 

In the meantime, teachers should teach and assess their students as they normally would and in line with the guidance issued by the Department for Education and Ofqual, to gather the evidence they would use to determine TAGs, in case they are needed. Ideally three assessments should be identified as those which would inform TAGs. These should be spread over the remaining academic year: for example, in the second half of the autumn term 2021, in the spring term of 2022, and the first half of the summer term 2022. Any other normal assessment points should be used to provide evidence to inform TAGs if they are needed. You should try to aim for a total assessment time that does not significantly exceed the total time students would spend taking exams for the relevant qualification, plus any time spent on non-exam assessment. For many of you, the required assessments will most likely already be planned to help learners prepare for summer exams. 

We strongly encourage you to read the details of these arrangements in full in the consultation outcome. Many of these may feel familiar to the approach used for TAGs in summer 2021. We have created some of the most frequently asked questions which can be found on our website.

Exams will take place in May/June 2022 for International GCSE. In the unlikely event that these exams cannot take place in some countries because of the pandemic, students’ grades would instead be determined by using an evidence-based approach, which would be marked and graded by Pearson. Centres would have to submit at least one set of past papers as part of the portfolio.

This could include papers from different series being used in combination with each other e.g. paper 1 from 2019 and paper 2 from 2018. We would use our examiners to mark and grade the portfolios to reach a final grade for the learner.

In the meantime, we strongly encourage teachers to teach and assess their students as normal and in line with the guidance on our website in case evidence is needed. As you prepare your students for the exams in the May/June 2022 series, we expect that the work you and your students normally undertake to prepare for examinations will generate most if not all of the evidence required for this contingency measure. We strongly encourage teachers to teach and assess their students as normal, but also to review the guidance on our website in relation to the range of evidence that would be needed and to plan their exam preparation accordingly.

Exam Aids are now available in the following subjects:

  • GCSE (9-1) Mathematics
  • GCSE (9-1) Physics
  • GCSE (9-1) Combined Science
  • International GCSE Physics
  • International GCSE Double Science 
  • International GCSE Single Science

You can find more information on the provision of formulae for International GCSE in Maths in our community post.

We will provide digital copies of the formulae and equation sheets for use in teaching and to ensure that students have time to make sure they are familiar with them prior to the exams. We will also send clean copies of the formulae and equation sheets with the exam booklets.

The exam aids are designed to be a support for students in the build-up and during the exams without undermining the value of the qualifications . We advocate that you continue to teach the full course of study for the qualification to help prepare students for their exams. You may wish to use the exam aids in lessons, topic tests, mock exams or any other way in which you are preparing learners for their exams.

The exam aids can be found on our website in the Summer 2022 support section for each qualification. You can find a link for your individual subject from our main Summer 2022 support page.

On 30 September, the Department for Education and Ofqual published the outcomes of the consultation on proposed summer 2022 adaptations, including optionality and advance information. 

The consultation concluded that all of the proposals set out in the consultation document would be implemented.  

There are four different types of adaptations for assessments in 2022:

  • Advance Information
  • Optionality
  • Exam support
  • NEA / fieldwork adaptations. 

The Advance Information will be released no later than 7 February 2022, but earlier if the impact of Covid-19 worsens.

We have created frequently asked questions that give you more detail about the adaptations and will begin to answer your queries.

Please note, that the changes to assessments published on 30 September are only for the May/June 2022 series and are not intended to be carried forward to May/June 2023. Schools and colleges should deliver the full course content for GCSE and A level courses due to be assessed in 2023.

Read more about the 2022 adaptations consultation outcomes.

Read more about the NEA and field work consultation outcomes.

Please visit the summer 2022 support tab on each qualification page to find out about the specific adaptations which have been put in place for each qualification. The adaptation and optionality information is available on each page. The Advance Information is not yet available for release. When it becomes available it will be published on the Summer 2022 support tab for each qualification. 

International GCSEs

Following the same principles as for our UK qualifications, we will offer adaptations to relevant International GCSE qualifications. These adaptations fall into the following categories:  

  • Advance Information (AI) 
  • Optionality
  • Content adjustments
  • Exam support materials 
  • NEA/Fieldwork Adaptations (this section does not apply to Languages qualifications).

Please visit the Summer 2022 support tab on each qualification page to find out about the specific adaptations which have been put in place for each qualification. The adaptation and optionality information is available on each page. The Advance Information is not yet available for release. When it becomes available it will be published on the Summer 2022 support tab for each qualification. 

Results days will be returning to one week apart:

  • Thursday 18 August: AS/A level and International AS/A Level and other Level 3 qualifications.
  • Thursday 25 August: GCSE, International GCSE and other Level 2 qualifications. 

The Final timetables for all UK and International qualifications in Summer 2022 are available on our Exam timetables web page.

In 2022 we will only be offering the option of a visiting examiner for UK centres. UK Centres will have a choice of assessment by either a visiting examiner attending their centre, or digitally via recorded performances (to be submitted via the Learner Work Transfer (LWT) platform). 

Due to the ongoing restrictions around global travel we are unable to offer visiting examiners to International centres and work must be submitted and assessed digitally. 

If you are a UK centre who wishes to proceed with an in person moderation visit, we strongly recommend that you also collect some video evidence, as a contingency, in case the visit cannot take place for any reason. 

For more information about the subjects where visiting moderation is an option, please visit the relevant subject pages where there are subject specific support documents and FAQs. 

More information about the Learner Work Transfer platform can be found on our website

The Entry Level Certificate will follow the same assessment arrangements as all other UK qualifications. Our intention is that these assessments can go ahead as usual as students are assessed at any point during the two-year course. The existing assessment materials should be used. A sample of students’ work will be submitted for moderation by the mark submission deadline (15 May 2022) and moderated by Pearson in the usual way.  

In the event that examinations cannot take place, the ELC qualifications will adopt the same evidence-based TAG process as in summer 2021. You should continue to plan, teach and assess as you ordinarily would and if exams cannot take place we will provide further guidance. 

 

Examinations will be taking place in January 2022. Please make sure that you have looked at which International GCSE qualifications are available in the series via our website as some amendments have been made. We can confirm that there will be no adjustments made to assessments for this series, other than the changes to International GCSE English Literature 4ET1. Teachers entering students for the optional spoken language endorsement for International GCSE English Language A or B are not required to make or submit video recordings of assessments.

January 2022 Timetables

The final timetables for all International qualifications in January are on our Exam timetables web page

Digital Learner Work Transfer - January Units

The following units will also be using the Digital Learner Work Transfer system in the January series. 

More information about the system, including how to upload samples and accepted file formats, can be found on our website.

Project Qualification

  • P101 Foundation#
  • P201 Higher
  • P301 Extended
  • P302 Extended
  • P303 Extended

International GCSE

  • 4ET_03 English Language A
  • 4ET_01 English Literature

For all other subjects, samples will be submitted as hard copies in the usual way. You can find out more about coursework and NEA submission on our website.  

As in 2020, results from the October and November series will be issued as follows:

Qualification Exam Session Results to Centres Results to Students
AS/A level Nov 2021 15 Dec 21 16 Dec 21
International AS/A level Oct 2021 12 Jan 22 13 Jan 22
iPrimary, iLower Secondary Oct 2021 12 Jan 22 13 Jan 22
GCSE English Language and GCSE Maths Noc 2021 12 Jan 22 13 Jan 22
GCSE (all other subjects) Nov 2021 23 Feb 22 24 Feb 22
International GCSE (all subjects) Nov 2021 23 Feb 22 24 Feb 22

We are pleased to be able to confirm the speaking windows for our modern foreign languages. More information about these can be found on our languages support pages.

ResultsPlus is an online results analysis tool that is included in your qualification entry fee that gives you a detailed breakdown of your students’ performance in Pearson Edexcel exams.

ResultsPlus provides detailed analysis of your learners' performance and will help you to identify potential topics, skills and types of questions where students may need to develop their learning further. Whilst there hasn’t been a typical examination series for a while, you may find it helpful to understand how your students’ performance compares with class and Pearson Edexcel national averages and to gather some insight data that may support effective teaching and learning approaches. Find out more on our ResultsPlus web page.

We ran two successful ResultsPlus online training sessions for our English, Maths qualifications this month and we will be hosting more in early 2022. These events are applicable to all qualifications as the principles will apply across AS/A Level, GCSE, International GCSE.

There are still places available for the History qualifications event on 6 December and you can book your place via the Professional Development Academy

We understand that a lot of information has been released for examinations in 2022. We are putting on some support sessions designed to help schools and colleges understand what's being asked of them this year. We will cover how to prepare for high-stake exams alongside contingency preparation and the tools we have available to help minimise the impact on teachers. The webinars are not subject specific. They are aimed at teachers in all schools and colleges. You do not have to be teaching a Pearson qualification to attend.

There will be an opportunity for pre-submitted questions and time at the end of the webinar for additional questions. You can book onto the sessions following the links below.

UK Session

International Session

There is a new FAQ hub and a new Teaching, Learning and assessment page for Vocational and Technical qualifications in 2021/22. You will find the latest information and support for our vocational qualifications on this web page, along with links to our regular VQ Bulletin containing all the key updates you need for our vocational qualifications. Please do bookmark this page for future reference.

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