DfE and Ofqual summer 2021 consultation

Friday 15 Jan 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual have launched a consultation for the summer 2021 exam series for GCSEs, AS and A-levels.

This follows on from the Secretary of State’s announcement last week that exams won’t go ahead as normal this summer – and that the Government will work with Ofqual and exam boards on alternative arrangements.

Here are some of the proposals:

  • A student’s grade in each subject will be based on their teachers’ assessment of the standard at which the student is performing, using a combination of evidence that might include:
    • results from papers provided by exam boards, but set by teachers to take account of differential learning. This will be supported by mark schemes, exemplar papers, other guidance on standardisation, and training from exam boards
    • non-exam assessment (NEA) in subjects where it applies
    • other performance evidence such formal tests, mock exam results and any substantial work completed by students.
  • All students can appeal if they don’t believe their grade reflects the evidence of the standard at which they were performing
  • Students who aren’t studying within a school or college must be able to receive grades too.

In terms of timing, the DfE and Ofqual are proposing that:

  • students are assessed by their teachers in a period beginning in May into early June
  • teachers submit grades to exam boards by mid-June
  • external quality assurance is carried out by exam boards throughout June
  • results are issued to students after the quality assurance, most likely in early July.

The DfE and Ofqual say that students should be given time to complete their non-exam assessments (NEA), as this will contribute to the evidence teachers use to determine their grades. They are proposing that the exam boards should give guidance on adjustments that could be made to the way non-exam assessments are completed, to account for current circumstances.

The DfE and Ofqual have also launched a consultation to look at which Vocational, Technical, and other Qualifications will need alternative arrangements and how those arrangements should work.

While the final arrangements for the summer are still to be confirmed, it’s important for schools and colleges to continue to make entries on our system as usual, so students can receive grades from us. The deadline for entries is Sunday 21 February.

As we’ve said previously, we want to make sure that students who are studying for AQA qualifications receive the grades they deserve. To help make this happen, we’ll be responding to the consultation ourselves and working closely with government and regulators over the coming months.