Letter: Robust system must be urgently developed for 2021 GCSE and A-Levels

Peter Shreeve of the NEU says robust systems must now be urgently developed to ensure that the 2021 grade awarding process for GCSE and A-levels is reliable, valid and secure

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This from Peter Shreeve, Assistant District Secretary, Isle of Wight – National Education Union. Ed

I write in anticipation of recent events and tomorrow’s GCSE results. Since A-level results were released last Thursday, many of those involved have experienced an unacceptable rollercoaster ride full of frustration and uncertainty.

Sighs of relief at the latest announcements. Students will receive either the grade their teacher set for them or the grade that Ofqual’s moderation process would have awarded them, whichever is the highest.

How will GCSE students fare?
Which way will individual GCSE students react tomorrow – with sighs of relief or despair?

Ofqual’s own analysis of the algorithm said the numbers getting good grades will be 1% higher at GCSE compared with last year. This is now unlikely to be the dominant grading system.

Results will generally be higher than last year
The Fischer Family Trust (FFT) examining the data of 1,900 schools, who submitted their estimated results earlier in the year suggest that results will generally be higher than last year and that there will be a comparative disparity between subjects.

At grade 4, the indication being improvements of 5% Maths, 10% English Language and 16% in computing. If true, does this grade inflation matter? Perhaps less so in the present situation, but only time and analysis of grades finally given will tell.

Appeals process unclear
Will some students still be unconvinced by their grades? Odds are that some students will still want to appeal, but it is still not clear exactly how the appeals process will work this year.

Be reassured that schools have all done what they can and will continue to do what they can for their students, even if they haven’t received the grades they wanted.

Robust systems must now be urgently developed
It must be obvious, even to Government, that robust systems must now be urgently developed to ensure that the 2021 grade awarding process for GCSE and A level is reliable, valid and secure.

A higher degree of confidence in our exam system is required and we are concerned that the current arrangements do not meet these criteria.

Young people must be rewarded for their achievements
All options should be considered to ensure that young people are rewarded for their achievements, supported to fulfil their potential and not held back due to their background, poor Government leadership and decision-making or any other reason.

Image: dcjohn under CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, 19th August, 2020 5:42pm


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1 Comment on "Letter: Robust system must be urgently developed for 2021 GCSE and A-Levels"

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As working conditions for students have been unprecedented this year, untypical results could be just a one off. In other countries, better results than in “normal” years have been observed in places. They have been accepted as a result of the fact that students had more opportunities to concentrate on their school work during lockdown and the following (more cautious than in the UK) relaxation of restrictions.… Read more »