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Updated 30.04.20

Awarding qualifications: information for students (vocational, A level, GCSE)

Latest information from the Department for Education and Ofqual, with regards to grading vocational qualifications.

As you may have seen in the media, colleges are still awaiting guidance about how vocational and technical qualifications are going to be awarded. As soon as we have this guidance we will communicate with you immediately. We would like to thank you for your patience at this uncertain time, and the continued engagement students are maintaining with their teachers.

Ofqual – the body that monitors qualifications – are working with awarding bodies to determine how qualifications may be finalised and awarded. There are currently three potential categories being discussed in relation to how this might happen:

• Calculated results
• Adaptation of assessments
• Rescheduling

Calculated results:

Qualifications being awarded based on students’ completion of class-work, assessments, mock exams, exams – as examples. This will be a similar process to how A levels and GCSEs are going to be calculated. Further information can be found at; https://www.gov.uk/government/news/awarding-vocational-and-technical-qualifications-this-summer

Adaption of assessments:

Where calculations are not possible alone and some assessments need completing, Ofqual are encouraging awarding bodies to adapt assessments or delivery models. This may mean completing an exam/assessment remotely for example. This could only be completed if it does not undermine the reliability of the result and only where assessments can take place within the current social distancing rules.

Rescheduling:

Where qualifications are required to show a students’ ability and knowledge to work in a particular role safely or they need a licence to practise, and students have not completed these elements of their study, there may be no option but to wait until normal assessments can take place again.

Ofqual are determining with awarding organisations those in scope for each category of grading,

This is still under review and awarding organisations were asked to submit this information to Ofqual by 17th April 2020. We hope that colleges will be communicated to within the coming weeks, to confirm which qualifications will be in which category. We can then move swiftly to ensure that all learners are clear as to how their grades will be awarded.

GCSE and A level – awarding quals

We have had a little more information on how your GCSE/A Levels will be awarded. As outlined below, the college will be working closely with the exam boards to ensure that you achieve a fair and appropriate grade for your subjects. We understand this is a worrying time, but please be reassured that the college will do everything needed to allow students to progress appropriately.

How will my GCSE and/or A Levels be decided?
Due to the cancellation of summer exams, your teachers will be giving you an assessment grade. This prediction can include evidence from homework, classwork, mock exams, controlled assessment completed so far. Your teacher will be going through a rigorous process to make the assessment grade.
These grades will be submitted to awarding bodies, where they will go through a rigorous moderation, before your final grade will be given.

Will students see the centre assessment grades their school or college submits?
No. It is important schools and colleges do not share provisional grades with students or parents and carers before final results have been issued. This is to protect the integrity of the teachers’ judgements, and to avoid teachers, Heads of Department or Heads of Centre feeling under pressure to submit a grade that is not supported by the evidence. Once centre assessment grades have been submitted to exam boards, the process to produce the final grades will start. More information will be given to teachers, students, parents and carers at the time final results are issued.

Will centre assessment grades be accurate?
College internal assessments already has an important role in many GCSEs and A levels. In an unprecedented situation such as this, colleges are best placed to judge the likely performance of their students had courses been completed as normal. There is evidence to show that teachers can make predictions for their students with a high degree of accuracy. In the interests of fairness to students, judgements made by colleges across the country should be consistent. Exam boards will therefore standardise the judgements once grades have been submitted.

When will results be released?
The exam boards are working hard to get results out as soon as is possible. Results won’t be delayed after the dates they were expected in August and ideally will be issued a little earlier, so students can have the certainty they need.

Will grades issued in 2020 carry the same weight as grades issued in previous or future years?
The grades awarded to students will have equal status to the grades awarded in other years and should be treated in this way by universities, colleges and employers. On the results slips and certificates, grades will be reported in the same way as in previous years.

Will students be able to progress to the next stage of education or employment with these grades?
Yes, this approach will enable students to move onto the next stage of their education or employment in the autumn as planned. The Department for Education has discussed the plan with UCAS, school and college leaders, who are supportive of the approach.

We are still awaiting further updates from awarding bodies for clarification of how vocational course grades will be decided.