General Qualifications Bulletin - UK - Issue 45

Wed May 24 13:00:00 UTC 2023

Dear Colleague, 

As this edition of the qualifications bulletin reaches you, the exam season is well under way. I know that getting your students ready for their assessments is a huge achievement, and I would like to thank you all again for the incredible work that you continue to do to ensure students are ready to sit exams.

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We know that taking any form of assessment can be a stressful time for students. Ofqual has shared some information about the arrangements for GCSEs, AS and A levels and vocational qualifications in England this summer, and we have some exam wellbeing support available that I would encourage you to share with your learners.  

As always, we’re here to support you through the next few months, and in this issue of the bulletin we’ve got some important information and reminders to help you and your students in this busy period. These include:

  • summer 2023 support for students, parents and carers
  • exam wellbeing and support
  • NEA/Learner Work Transfer
  • preparing for results: ResultsPlus
  • exams officer support
  • subject updates
  • timetable variations
  • key dates and more.

We wish you and your students a successful exam series. Please get in touch if you have any questions, and we will always do our best to get you the answers you need as quickly as possible.   

With best wishes,

Hayley White
Assessment Director

With the exam season now upon us there is plenty of information and support to help students, parents and carers navigate this busy period. 

Ofqual factsheets for parents and carers

Ofqual has recently published a factsheet for parents and carers of students sitting exams and assessments in summer 2023. The factsheet was produced in collaboration with the Department for Education and UCAS. 

Letter to parents from Dr Jo Saxton

Dr Jo Saxton, Chief Regulator at Ofqual, has written a letter to parents outlining the additional support that has been put in place this year for students taking exams to recognise the disruption they’ve faced. 

Ofqual Student Guide 2023 

Ofqual has also shared a guide for students with information about the arrangements for GCSEs, AS and A levels and vocational qualifications in England this summer. It also explains what support is in place when taking exams and assessments. 

You can read the full information on their website, but they’ve also produced a condensed version of the information in a handy PDF: Arrangements for exams and assessments in 2023

Ofqual student checklist

Exams are undertaken with strict supervision and it’s important that students know what to expect on the day of their exams. Ofqual have created a student checklist which includes information on what can be done the day before each exam and what can and can’t be taken into the exam hall.  

Let's talk about social media

Social media is big part of everyday life and whilst many of us enjoy sharing experiences online, when it comes to exams, we all have to be very careful.  

The Joint Council for Qualifications has produced a guide for students on using social media during the exam season. There are some do's and don’ts that students should follow and a list of the actions that could be taken if these are not followed. 

Exam tips for students

Don’t forget to pass our Getting ready for exams guide on to your students. This offers top tips and advice, including:

  • preparing for exams
  • what happens on exam day
  • where to find further support
  • what happens once exams are over.

Stay up to date with all our support for 2023 on our Summer 2023 support page.

Every student’s experience of exams is different, and we understand that preparing for and sitting exams can be overwhelming. If you haven’t seen it already, our Exam Wellbeing Hub is available to support students and their families through every step of the exam journey, from revision and exam day through to results day. Alongside guidance and top tips, there are also details of charities and organisations that can help with mental health and wellbeing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Explore our Exam Wellbeing Hub.

Plus, our Wellbeing Zone is also available all year round to support teachers, students and family with mental health and wellbeing.

The Learner Work Transfer (LWT) system will continue to be used for a host of GCSE, International GCSE, Project, A-Level, and International A-levels that involve a speaking component, performance, portfolio or other non-examined assessment (NEA).  

You can find a wide range of information and guidance on the Learner Work Transfer (LWT) system on our support portal.

The LWT system is currently open and available for some subjects. Please refer to our Key Dates Finder for sample submission deadlines.

With exams in full swing, now is also a good time to start planning ahead for results days. Read on to find out more about ResultsPlus, our online results analysis tool for teachers. Included as part of your qualification fees, ResultsPlus gives you a detailed breakdown of your students’ performance in Pearson Edexcel exams and BTEC external assessments.    

Find out more and set up your ResultsPlus account today.

We also provide a ResultsPlus Group Analysis service. Developed to support multi-academy trusts and groups of schools, this service can provide senior leaders with a clear overall picture of student performance across all their schools in Pearson Edexcel exams and BTEC external assessments. It can also be used to analyse your mock exam results, making this service a valuable tool for use throughout the academic year.

Take a look at our short video that explains how ResultsPlus Group Analysis will work for you.

We’ll need to set up a separate account for your multi-academy trust or groups of schools, even if your own school is already set up with a ResultsPlus account.

Please ensure you have created a ResultsPlus Group Analysis account before the end of term and be ready for results day.

On 28 March, JCQ released a document which provides teachers and assessors with the information they need to manage use of artificial intelligence (AI) in assessments. This guidance applies to all our general qualifications including GCSEs, International GCSEs, AS and A levels, International A levels, Entry Level, Project and vocational qualifications.

Important points to note:

  • centres should explain the importance of students submitting their own independent work
  • centres should ensure that teachers and assessors are familiar with AI tools and their risks
  • centres should consider communications with parents/carers to make them aware of AI
  • students must acknowledge use of AI when used
  • misuse of AI tools is malpractice.

Within the document, there is a list of potential indicators of AI use that may help identify work where students have misused AI. Please pass this information on to all your colleagues.

Download the document from the JCQ website

To help you have as smooth an exam series as possible, we've created a dedicated Exams Officer Support Summer 2023: Exam Administration Essential Information article on our support portal. This collects everything you need to know about popular support topics in one place so that you can find the guidance you need quickly and easily. 

New on-demand e-Learning: Invigilation reminders (2022/23)

We've published a brand new e-learning module on invigilation reminders, available through the Pearson Development Hub and on our website.

This module is to help remind new or returning invigilators of the main requirements that they need to be aware of when invigilating exams. This should supplement training being given in centres, usually led by the exams officer. 

You should now have received question papers for exams taking place in May and up until 6 June.

For exams taking place from 7 June onwards, you can expect to start receiving question papers from 19 May.  

You will be able to track your standard question paper despatch for general qualifications via Edexcel Online.

If you have entries for A level Maths (9MA0), your question papers will not be included in the despatches mentioned above. Further details about A level Maths delivery plans for your centre will be communicated the week commencing 22 May.

An interactive training session on question paper security is available on our on-demand e-Learning page.

Secure Download Service (SDS)

Question papers will be available to download from SDS which means you don’t need to request and wait for an SFT. You can self-serve and download question papers 90 minutes prior to the exam start time and 24 hours prior for audio files (or on the Friday if the examination is scheduled for a Monday).  

If you don’t already have SDS added to your EOL profile, you will need to create a case for a Customer Services Specialist to resolve.   

As an alternative to SDS, we will send standard-length audio files via Secure File Transfer (SFT) to all centres with entries for MFL subjects. 

Attendance registers

You should have now started to receive attendance registers and labels.

The Yellow Label Service will be in place for this summer series for centres in England to return scripts. 

Looking ahead to the delivery of the GCSE (9– 1) Computer Science: Application of Computational Thinking (1CP2/02), we wanted to share with you the recording of our live support session held on 29 March 2023.

This session covered:

  • Support and guidance for delivering the assessment: updated ICE, checklists
  • Key preparation activities: creation of Secure User Areas, folder set-up, IT support and contingency measures
  • What to expect on exam day: release of exam materials, Learner Work Transfer (LWT)

To get the most out of this recording, please take the time to read through the Instructions for Conducting Examinations (ICE) document and the role-specific checklists, all of which you can download under the Centre guidance banner to return scripts. 

Consultations on A level Chinese and Japanese have been published by DfE and Ofqual

The Department for Education and Ofqual have both published consultations seeking your views on changes to the current subject content and assessment arrangements for Chinese and Japanese AS and A levels to allow the use of English where it is reasonable.  

Read our full news item about these consultations.   

New podcast on history of apartheid in South Africa 

We are delighted to share with you a new seven-part podcast series on the history of apartheid in South Africa which will be useful for teachers and students who do this topic in our A level History specification. The podcast was produced for the Anti-Apartheid Legacy: Centre of Memory and Learning by Dr Natasha Robinson and Professor William Beinart, and is hosted by history teacher Ciara McCombe.

Find out more and listen to the podcast.

New GCSE and A level Psychology videos

Take a look at our Psychology YouTube channel, where we're steadily adding new videos to support teachers and students of GCSE and A level Psychology.

Subject Advisor updates

The best way to keep up to date with all the qualification news and support for subjects is to sign up to receive regular email updates and check out the latest subject update from our Subject Advisor page

All exams are scheduled to be sat at 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The permitted exceptions to this are detailed in sections 7 and 8 of the JCQ Instructions for Conducting Examinations.

Where a timetable variation is used, candidates must be kept under examination conditions until the end of the scheduled exam time. Exams for AS Maths, AS Further Maths, A level Maths, A level Further Maths and A level Statistics must not be moved to an earlier session. You can find more information in the JCQ guidance

Our Key Dates Finder enables you to find all of the key dates for Pearson general qualifications and subjects in one place. Here are those taking place in the next few weeks. 

Date

Qualification

Exam Series

Description

22/05/2023

International GCSE IT 4IT1/02

Jun 23

Data file release available on our website

23/05/2023

GCSE Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu

Jun 23

Final submission deadline for recordings

31/05/2023

GCSE Art and Design 1AD0/01 (and all linked endorsements)

Jun 23

Start of moderator visits. Marks must be submitted 48 hours prior to the moderation visits.

31/05/2023

GCE Art and Design 9AD0/01 (and all linked endorsements)

Jun 23

Start of moderator visits. Marks must be submitted 48 hours prior to the moderation visits.

02/06/2023

International GCSE Chinese, French, German and Spanish

Jun 23

End of window for speaking tests

05/06/2023

International GCSE Computer Science 4CP0 02

Jun 23

Data file release available on our website

28/06/2023

GCSE, GCSE AS & A Level

Jun 23

Data file release available on our website

29/06/2023

GCSE Art and Design 1AD0/01 (and all linked endorsements)

Jun 23

End of moderator visits. Marks must be submitted 48hrs prior to the moderation visits.

29/06/2023

GCE Art and Design 9AD0/01 (and all linked endorsements)

Jun 23

End of moderator visits. Marks must be submitted 48hrs prior to the moderation visits.

For more information on key dates for post results services please visit our Post-results services key dates page. 

The summer 2024 provisional timetables are now available to view. Should you have any feedback, please get in touch with us at timetables@pearson.com. We'll let you know once these provisional timetables have been finalised. 

Monthly Exams Officer Update live sessions

With news, updates, information and support, join our live monthly events for Exams Officers to ensure you’re all ready for the 2023 exam series.  

All events are recorded, so if you’re unable to attend you can go back and watch previous events on our support portal.

The next event will be on Thursday 8 June, 14:00–15:00; register now if you'd like to attend.

Spotlight on assessment, services and support: 2023 and beyond

We’re delighted to invite you to our pre-results review event to be held at our head office in the Strand, London, on Thursday, 29 June, 11:00–15:00.

We’ll cover the early insights from the recently completed summer series and share how we anticipate results will be received. Our experts in standards and research will share their insight and we will look at our plans for future developments in assessment.

The event will be chaired by Hayley White and our assessment experts from across Pearson. You will have the opportunity to network with colleagues and with our assessment team, and we hope you can join us.

Book your place today.

We're introducing a regular International GCSE November series, first running in November 2023. The November series is being introduced to best meet the needs of students requiring International GCSE exam opportunities outside of the full May/June series, and it will replace the existing January series from 2024. This will result in just a May/June and November series going forward for International GCSE. 

Why are we moving to a November exam series?

Due to the pandemic, circumstances meant that we needed to follow a November International GCSE exam series in 2020, 2021 and 2022. As the November series seemed to be well received, we consulted schools to understand whether there was a preference for a permanent November exam series or reverting to January.

November was the preferred option for most schools; not just for resits, but also for learners studying on a January–December academic year.

Read more information about the November series.

Visit our new Vocational Teaching, Learning and Assessment page to find out about the enhanced support we’re offering for BTEC in 2023. Stay informed with vocational qualifications by following @PearsonBTECAppr, where we will update you with the latest information.

For responses to any suggestions or feedback you have for us, please visit our Contact Us page. You can also review our past bulletins if you’ve missed any, or sign up to receive future updates.

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