Further guidance issued for Heads of Centre on making assessment judgements about private candidates.


Following the government’s decision to cancel exams to help fight the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and to provide students with calculated grades this summer, we have set out exceptional arrangements for awarding GCSEs, AS and A levels, so that as far as possible students are not disadvantaged by these unprecedented circumstances. We recognise private candidates are anxious to know how these exceptional arrangements will apply to them.

When we published our Information document on 3 April we said that exam boards can issue calculated grades to private candidates for whom the head of an exam centre can confidently submit a centre assessment grade and include the student in their centre’s rank order. Exam boards have today (Thursday 30 April) published further guidance to support Heads of Centre making judgements about private candidates, and we have published an update to our own Information.

The exam boards’ guidance sets out alternative sources of evidence a school or college might consider where it does not have sufficient evidence about a student’s attainment to submit a centre assessment grade and rank order information. It also allows for some private candidates to transfer to another centre, ahead of the grading process this summer, if the centre where they had registered decides it cannot submit a centre assessment grade. In this case, some other centres, such as those with experience of working with distance learners, may be able to work with some more of those private candidates who need a grade this summer in order to progress. So that the grading process is fair, the Head of Centre must have the same level of confidence in the grade and rank order position as for all other students.

The exam boards will expect centres who are willing and approved to work with private candidates in this way to utilise any capacity to prioritise candidates who need to receive a grade to progress this summer. Sally Collier, Chief Regulator, Ofqual, said:

We welcome the additional guidance exam boards have set out which will provide further opportunities for private candidates to be graded this summer, and support them in moving on to the next stage of their lives. However, it is vital all grades are determined using a robust and consistent process so that everyone can have confidence in them. Students that cannot receive a grade, or who are unhappy with the grade they receive, will have an opportunity to take exams in the autumn.

Students who have not already been in touch with the centre where they were registered should contact the centre now – or talk to their exam board for information about working with a new centre.

Published 30 April 2020