General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 4
I hope that you managed to relax and enjoy your half term break, it was certainly back with a bang as we saw a number of key announcements made last week. Following the news that schools in the UK would return from 8 March, we also saw the Ofqual consultation outcomes published and some further information on the summer examinations shared.
We will continue to update you with these bulletins as we release more support and guidance to assist you with awarding grades in 2021.
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.
On 25 February the Department for Education and Ofqual confirmed arrangements for how this year’s GCSE and A level results will be graded and issued to students. Students will receive grades based on teachers’ judgements of their performance based on a range of evidence. We're now working through the detail of these arrangements to understand what they mean for schools, colleges, teachers and students, including those taking our international general qualifications.
We can confirm that UK and international centres will follow the same approach for the UK GCSE and AS/A level qualifications.
We promise to now work with you to make sure students receive grades to progress to the next stage of their education.
We'll provide detailed guidance and support to ensure this happens. 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 will also be providing support for teachers through our Professional Development Academy where teachers will be able to sign up and access a range of resources. We will share further details with you shortly.
In the meantime please take a look at this article from Chief Regulator, Simon Lebus, explaining the arrangements for summer 2021 and this infographic (PDF, 0.65 MB) from Ofqual which might be helpful to share with parents and students.
We promise to now work with you to make sure students receive grades to progress to the next stage of their education. We'll provide detailed guidance and support to ensure this happens.
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 will also be providing support for teachers through our Professional Development Academy where teachers will be able to sign up and access a range of resources. We will share further details with you shortly.
To ensure fairness for all students around the world, we want to ensure parity with our UK qualifications and so will align the evidence-based approach for International GCSEs with the approach for UK qualifications, as far as it is sensible to do so.
Student grades will be derived by teachers and centres with support throughout from Pearson. With our support it will be possible to use a variety of evidence to inform the grade which will be submitted to Pearson.
We want to ensure that you have access to assessment materials that will enable objective and fair judgements to be made about student performance; we have also heard from you that you want us to support you in translating evidence-based judgements into grades.
Unseen test materials for International GCSE
One of the forms of evidence that will be made available is the optional use of unseen test materials. We will send unseen test materials to all centres – teachers and students will be familiar with the style of the materials as they will look like question papers used in a normal exam series. The materials will need to be kept securely, until a specified date, and we will provide details of what you will need to do in due course – it will be very similar to how you typically deal with exam materials.
These test materials can then be used in two ways; firstly, as unseen materials presented to students in a controlled situation, in a specified timeframe, for them to respond to; or secondly, 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 – we will provide more detail on each of these options in the coming weeks.
To support the use of these unseen materials we will be offering an optional marking service where our expert examiners will mark your student responses. We will mark the test materials and return a mark to you for your consideration when deriving the student grade. We will 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 would prefer to mark the materials yourself, we will be providing mark schemes and training materials so that you can do so with confidence.
The approach for this series will be underpinned by a quality assurance process that focuses on helping you to make judgements, based on evidence, that are objective and consistent. There will be several different stages, and we will provide more detail in the next edition of this bulletin, but we are committed to ensuring that it is supportive and not overly burdensome.
On 25 February the Department for Education and Ofqual confirmed that results will be issued to students in early August. AS and A level and International AS and A Level results will be issued to students on Tuesday 10 August 2021. GCSE and International GCSE results will be issued to students on Thursday 12 August 2021. As usual Exam boards will release results to centres on the preceding day.
Whilst a number of key dates are still under discussion, this timeline (PDF, 0.1 MB) on our website indicates what we are able to confirm at this time.
The DfE is currently exploring ways to make sure there are affordable opportunities for private candidates to work with centres, and to encourage centres to work with private candidates.
Once the DfE has completed its review, we will be working with other awarding organisations to provide a list of centres offering to support private candidates through the assessment process, including details of the subjects they can offer. We expect this list to be available before the end of March.
We can assure private candidates that they will not need to pay higher entry fees if, as a result of this, they need to make their entry after the extended entry deadline.
We will also 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. Further information on how to ensure that late fees are not incurred can be found on our Private candidates page.
Ofqual have confirmed, following the publication of their decisions on assessment arrangements for summer 2021, that candidates should continue to be given the opportunity to complete non-exam assessment (NEA) . The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has released guidance (PDF, 76 KB) for centres on how to complete and authenticate non-exam assessment remotely, where it is safe and possible to do so.
Ofqual have also confirmed that NEA will not be moderated by the exam boards. The evidence from NEA will be used by teachers to inform their Teacher Assessed Grade (TAG). We know that teachers may be concerned about how to assess incomplete NEA evidence when a candidate has been unable to finish their work through no fault of their own. The exam boards are working together to provide additional guidance to help centres in these circumstances.
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 share more details about the process and timeline for submitting endorsement grades in due course.