Schools will welcome teacher assessments for GCSE and A Level results after last year's u-turn "disaster", says Leeds headteacher

School leaders across Leeds are set to welcome a new plan for the grading of GCSE and A Level results this year.

By Emma Ryan
Friday, 26th February 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 26th February 2021, 6:30 am

It was revealed last night by the education secretary Gavin Williamson that A-level and GCSE students will receive grades determined by their teachers earlier in August to give them more time to appeal.

All pupils in England will be allowed to appeal their grades at no additional cost and be offered opportunity to sit exams in the autumn if they are still unhappy with their results.

It comes after the chaos of last year's grading system which saw thousands of A-level students having results downgraded from school estimates by an algorithm before Ofqual announced a U-turn.

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Janet Sheriff, headteacher at Prince Henry's Grammar School in Otley.

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Janet Sheriff, headteacher at Prince Henry's Grammar School in Otley, said confirmation of the process was much better than last year which was "a disaster".

She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "I think that most schools, school leaders and teachers will really welcome the government decision to trust teachers to make the judgement about GCSE and A Level grades. Teachers are the ones that have been working with students and know them well and have historical use of data to really inform an accurate judgement about the grades to be made for each individual.

"This is a much better arrangement than what was proposed, we could see it would be a disaster from the outset."

The lower school at Prince Henry's Grammar School in Otley.

While there always be a small number of students disappointed with their results, she said that within the government directive, there are structures and guidance to ensure results are awarded fairly across schools.

At Prince Henry, there will be a mix of assessments of course-work, work to be undertaken from the re-start of school next month and tests based on what subjects have been covered, as this is likely to vary between schools.

She added: "Obviously it relies on integrity of school staff, which I am sure is there, and the guidance does give structure. It is a good idea to have moderation and checking to reduce the inconsistency between schools. That will give confidence to students, the community, universities and employers that will be looking at grades and making decisions about recruitment, jobs and courses."

The Department for Education and England's exams regulator Ofqual have confirmed that teachers will be able to draw on a range of evidence when determining grades - including mock exams, coursework or other work completed as part of a pupil's course, such as essays or in-class tests and pupils will only be assessed on what they have been taught after months of school and college closures.

Janet Sheriff with pupils at Prince Henry's Grammar School in Otley.

Schools and colleges will submit grades to exam boards by June 18 and students will receive grades in early August once quality assurance checks have been completed by the exam boards.

A-level students will receive their results on August 10 and GCSE pupils will receive theirs two days later on August 12.

The DfE said schools and colleges will conduct multiple checks - such as on the consistency of judgments across teachers and that the correct processes are followed - to ensure as much fairness as possible. Exam boards will also conduct their own checks through a combination of random sampling and more targeted scrutiny.

It comes after a joint consultation on exams received more than 100,000 responses - with more than half coming from students themselves.

Mr Williamson said: "Young people have shown incredible resilience over the last year, continuing with their learning amidst unprecedented challenges while the country battles with this pandemic. Those efforts deserve to be fairly rewarded.

"That's why we are providing the fairest possible system for those pupils, asking those who know them best - their teachers - to determine their grades, with our sole aim to make sure all young people can progress to the next stage of their education or career."

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