Ofqual tiering decisions for 2019: no repeat of last summer’s special arrangements for science and languages

Tuesday 15 Jan 2019

Ofqual has announced it will not be repeating the special arrangements that were put in place last summer for GCSE combined science, individual sciences and French, German and Spanish.

In summer 2018, Ofqual introduced a new allowed grade 3–3 for combined science, and also allowed a full-width safety net grade 4–3 on combined science. They also allowed a full-width grade 3 in separate sciences and French, German and Spanish. In a blog published today, Ofqual says those arrangements were for unique circumstances and they ‘want schools and colleges to reflect on their entry decisions in 2018 and think carefully about which tier to enter students for in summer 2019.’

We have made a video for teachers explaining how to choose tiers for GCSE Maths, science and languages.

There are also new full tiering guides available for MFL and Science.

Here are our 5 tips for tiering:

  1. If many of your students got 4–3/3 or any got 3–3 last year, we’d suggest reviewing your entry decisions very carefully, as it’s very likely some of those pupils should have been entered for the foundation tier instead of the higher.
  2. Looking at common exam questions is often the best way to decide on the right tier. At least 20% of questions are common to both tiers, so when your students sit the sample papers, look closely at how they do on those common questions – if they can’t answer many of them, they’re unlikely to have a good experience of the higher tier and should probably be entered for foundation.
  3. It’s also really important and relevant to remember that the new tiers cover a different grade range (because of the 9–1 structure) than the old ones did. Where the old C/D grade boundary might have been your best guide for choosing the right tier for your students, now the old B/C grade boundary is probably closer to where the higher/foundation split might be.
  4. Where tiering outcomes have been good in your school or college, speak to the teachers in those subjects and find out which strategies they used.
  5. And remember, you can always change your mind: the deadline for entries for the June 2019 exam series is 21 February. However, you can make amendments to your entries, including changing the tier, free of charge up until 21 April.