27/03/20

Exams regulator Ofqual says it will publish a plan detailing the new GCSE and A-level grading systems by Easter, according to Gov.uk.

The system, which will involve using teacher assessments and other data as a basis for grades, has been developed following the cancellation of summer exams due to covid-19.

Ofqual says it has made “considerable progress” in implementing education secretary Gavin Williamson’s proposals and will publish detailed information about the timetable for this summer’s GCSE and A-level grades next week.

“Students understandably want reassurance, and teachers urgently need to know what to do and when,” an Ofqual spokesperson said.

“We expect to publish detailed information about the process and timetable which will apply this summer next week. This will include the steps we would like teachers to follow and more detailed guidance on how to consider the full range of evidence they will have available when submitting their assessment grades.”

Ofqual is also in discussions with teaching representatives to ensure that its plans are “manageable and appropriate”.

It said: “We will outline by Easter the process we will follow to make sure grades are fair across schools and colleges, as well as our proposals for appeals.

“We will also say more as soon as possible about the arrangements for additional exams in the new academic year.”

This news follows the Department for Education’s announcement last week that GCSE and A-level exams would be cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak, and that teacher assessments and other data would be used to provide a “calculated grade” for students.

Ofqual added: “We want to reassure students waiting for news that we are doing everything we can to make sure they are not disadvantaged by these unprecedented circumstances.”

Ofsted curriculum transition

Unions warn: “We can’t home school the UK’s children.”

This is not education as we have known it.

NEU Teaching Union

Thousands of schools have closed their doors to limit the spread of coronavirus, forcing teachers and students to move to an online learning structure. Schools have remained open only for the children of key workers.

Whilst many schools have adapted well to the home learning setup, teaching unions warn that the UK’s children cannot be home-school for the foreseeable.

Teachers stressed: “It is not feasible for schools to continue to provide a ‘normal’ school education.”

New joint guidance drawn up by the NEU teaching union and the ASCL and NAHT school leaders’ unions states: “This is not education as we have known it. Sats, GCSEs, AS and A level exams, as well as Ofsted inspections have all been cancelled.

“Children and young people have very different home lives and very different levels of parental support. It is not feasible to carry on as before during this crisis.

“We cannot ‘home school’ the nation’s children. Children in school will not be following a normal timetable – with lessons and homework.

“The main focus, certainly in the short term, will be on ensuring that children are safe and supported. It is not possible to replicate a usual school experience at home.”

The document outlines the different ways in which recreating a standard classroom learning environment at home would be tricky, including the fact that not all students will have good internet access at home.

It also outlines safety advice for schools, such as following close hygiene precautions for teachers on rota in the school and the children of key workers, to ensure they remain safe and well.