Voice Official Response: Ofqual consultation on Proposed changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2021
Background: Proposals to modify the assessment requirements for some GCSEs, AS and A levels in response to disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Summary: The biggest difficulty will be in preparing candidates. Many subjects prepare students for exams by identifying which topics or areas of study will be covered in which papers and direct candidates to revise accordingly. They will take mock exams and be given feedback based on this system. That does not mean the system cannot or should not be changed, but it is an important consideration. There are pitfalls with any minimising approach as identified in the consultation document; such as how to assess students who are ill or who fail to complete a minimum percentage of the assessment, but it is also true that there are issues with the current focus on exam assessment which has become particularly apparent in discussions relating to the centre assessed grades which are forming the basis of this year’s awards. There needs to be a rebalancing of the use of non-exam assessment and this could be the beginning of this process.
The obvious advantage to delaying the commencement of the exam period is to allow for more teaching time. Given the amount of time that has been denied these candidates due to lockdown it is understandable to make every effort to build in time for teaching, however it is important to note that we do not know if this will be possible to utilise until we know that COVID-19 will not close schools and centres again. Therefore, delaying the start of the exam season may not be of equal benefit to everyone.
Any potential further lockdowns will continue to have greater detriment on those from poorer backgrounds and we would hope that Ofqual would recognise this in any changes made.