Students face nearly a year of disruption to their learning. So, how will exams in 2021 and assessments change in England?
In early January 2021, the government announced that summer qualifications will be awarded based on teacher assessments. Teachers will make a judgement based on the work students will complete over the duration of their courses.
How Will Grades be Assessed?
Teachers can use a range of ways to assess pupils. Assessments could include mock tests, coursework, in-class tests, exam board assessments, pass records of capability, progress and performance. No formal exams will take place this year.
Additionally, the government has advised teachers to use a range of these to back up the grades they give. Exam boards will investigate any cases where evidence does not seem authentic.
How Will Students, Teachers and Schools be supported?
Exam boards in England will provide support to schools. They will give guidance to teachers on how to fairly and effectively assess their classes’ grades. Another option for teachers is to conduct short assessments that exam boards will provide but these will no be taken in formal exam conditions.
Some courses and subjects will be able to release topics of assessments ahead of tests. Other assistance includes aids such as formula sheets.
Furthermore, exam boards are set to publish more guidance for teachers at the end of March and will provide guidance and training on how to best assess grades and minimise any risk of bias or malpractice.
Last year there was controversy over the algorithm that monitored teacher’s predictions. However, this algorithm will not be used this year.
Can I Appeal?
Despite these changes, every student still has the right to appeal their grade and will be able to follow the official procedure to appeal.
Results need to be submitted by teachers by 18 June, which will allow exam board t carry out quality assurance checks. Results will also be revealed earlier than usual – A/AS Level on 10 August and GCSE on 12 August – to enable any necessary appeals to take place. Following results, there will also be a window of opportunity to appeal grades.
Education secretary, Gavin 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.”
There are different changes to exams in 2021 around the UK; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have separate information for their exam process.