This consultation has concluded

Download the full outcome

Decisions on how GCSE, AS and A level grades will be determined in summer 2021

Ref: Ofqual/21/6747/1PDF, 420KB, 25 pages

Appendix A: breakdown of the responses for each question by respondent groups

Ref: Ofqual/21/6747/3PDF, 16.9MB, 232 pages

Appendix B1: Tables of all respondents

Ref: Ofqual/21/6747/4MS Excel Spreadsheet, 242KB

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Appendix B2: Tables of respondents by student year group

Ref: Ofqual/21/6747/5MS Excel Spreadsheet, 185KB

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Appendix B3: Tables of respondents by student ethnicity

Ref: Ofqual/21/6747/6MS Excel Spreadsheet, 241KB

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Appendix B4: Tables of respondents by student disability

Ref: Ofqual/21/6747/7MS Excel Spreadsheet, 175KB

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Appendix B5: Tables of respondents by student reasonable adjustments

Ref: Ofqual/21/6747/8MS Excel Spreadsheet, 184KB

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Infographic: how GCSEs, AS and A levels will be awarded in summer 2021

Ref: Ofqual/21/6751/2PDF, 640KB, 1 page

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Detail of outcome

Assessment and evidence

  • Teachers must assess their students’ performance, only on what content has been delivered to them by their teachers, to determine the grade each student should receive.
  • Teachers can use evidence of a student’s performance from throughout the course to inform their judgement.
  • Teachers should determine the grades as late in the academic year as is practicable, and not confined to a defined window, to enable teaching to continue for as long as possible.
  • Schools and colleges should use a broad range of evidence across the taught content to determine the grades before submitting the grades to the exam boards.
  • Heads of centres will have to confirm that students have been taught sufficient content to allow progression to the next stage of their education, although we will not set requirements about the minimum amount of content that students must have been taught.
  • Students should continue to work on their non-exam assessment (NEA), including for Project qualifications. NEA will be marked by teachers and will contribute to the overall grade, whether or not is has been completed, but we will not require exam boards to moderate it.
  • In GCSE, AS and A level art and design, the student’s grade must be based on the portfolio only, whether or not it has been completed.
  • In 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.
  • Private candidates should work with a centre to provide evidence in line with the sort of evidence that other students will produce
  • Overall, it will be no easier or harder for a student to achieve a particular grade this year compared to previous years.

Support materials

  • Exam boards will provide a package of support materials to include questions, mark schemes, data about how students typically performed in individual questions and exemplar materials, as well as advice for teachers about content coverage, topic selection, marking and making grading judgements. This will be based on past questions and will include aa proportion of previously unpublished questions for every subject.
  • Teachers will be able to use the support materials immediately following publication and until the deadline for the submission of grades.
  • Use of these exam board support materials is not compulsory; they will be part of the range of evidence teachers could use to determine the grade.

Quality assurance

  • Exam boards will work together as far as possible to ensure that requirements for internal quality assurance (QA) and arrangements for external QA are consistent.
  • Centres’ internal QA arrangements will include consideration of the centre’s profile of results in previous years as a guide to help them to check that their judgements are not unduly harsh or lenient.
  • Exam boards will put in place arrangements for external QA to check each centre’s internal QA process and, in a sample of centres, to review the evidence for one or more subjects. Sampling should be both random, and risk-based.
  • Exam boards will process the grades submitted by centres only after completing, and being satisfied with, any external QA.
  • Exam boards will require centres to submit a declaration by the head of centre, confirming that the requirements for internal quality assurance have been met.

Appeals and results

  • Students will be able to appeal their grade.
  • A student who is unhappy with their grade will first ask their centre to check whether an administrative or procedural error had been made.
  • Where a centre does identify an error in the grade submitted to the exam board, it can submit a revised grade and a rationale for the board to consider. If the exam board is satisfied with the rationale, it will issue a revised grade.
  • Where a centre does not believe an error had been made, a student can ask the centre to appeal to the exam board on their behalf. The centre will submit the student’s appeal to the exam board and provide the evidence on which its judgement had been made; the exam board will consider whether, in its view, the grade reflected an appropriate exercise of academic judgement. If the exam board judges that it did not, the exam board will determine the grade that the evidence would support. The exam board will also check that the centre had followed its own process.
  • Results days will be on 10 August for AS and A level, and 12 August for GCSE results.

AEA and Project qualifications

  • We will treat the AEA and Project qualifications in the same way as GCSE, AS and A levels.

Other

  • We will not prevent exams for GCSE, AS and A level in summer 2021 being taken outside the UK. In line with government policy, we will prevent any exams taking place in the UK.
  • Exam boards will be able to accept entries from any year group and/or age of candidate.

Feedback received

Analysis of consultation responses: how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021

Published: 25 February 2021PDF, 2.78MB, 211 pages

Detail of feedback received

We had 100,596 responses to the consultation. This was a public consultation which asked for the views of those who wished to participate. We were pleased to receive a very large number of responses, including many from students, and we thank everyone for responding. We recognise that the responses are not necessarily representative of the general public or any specific group.

Original consultation

Summary

The approach to awarding GCSE, AS and A level grades in 2021 following the cancellation of exams.

This consultation ran from
to

Consultation description

Government decided that schools and colleges must close to most, to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Through this joint consultation, Ofqual and the Department for Education want to hear the views of students who were due to take their exams, their parents and carers, their teachers, school and college leaders and others who have an interest, including further and higher education providers, and employers. The consultation covers general and vocational qualifications, with this document focusing on the former.

Students need grades to continue to the next stage of their education or training, or into employment. Grades must reflect what a student knows, understands and can do, and they must be widely understood and respected. In place of exams in summer 2021 we propose that a student’s grade in a subject will be based on their teacher’s assessment of the standard at which they are performing.

Documents

How GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021

Ref: Ofqual/21/6743/1PDF, 601KB, 46 pages

How GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021 (HTML)

HTML

Published 15 January 2021
Last updated 25 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Decisions and analysis of responses published.

  2. Added an accessible, HTML version of the consultation document.

  3. First published.