The government has confirmed it will use teacher assessments to provide calculated grades for students this year.
The aim is to provide grades to learners before the end of July. They will be “indistinguishable from those provided in other years”, and students will have a chance to resit an exam if they don’t think the grade is fair.
It states exam boards will “ask teachers to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead”.
This is an opportunity to at least point the way to a less brutal system.
Teachers should consider evidence including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment.
Ofqual said “clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly this will be provided to schools and colleges”.
“The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in.”
Ofqual and exam boards “will be discussing with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that it is as fair as possible. More information will be provided as soon as possible.”
Ofqual said it will also “aim to ensure that the distribution of grades follows a similar pattern to that in other years, so that this year’s students do not face a systematic disadvantage as a consequence of these extraordinary circumstances.”
If pupils “do not believe the correct process has been followed” then they can appeal.
If they don’t feel their calculated grade reflects their performance pupils can also resit an exam “at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once schools are open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.”
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Cancelling exams is something no education secretary would ever want to do, however these are extraordinary times and this measure is a vital but unprecedented step in the country’s efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“My priority now is to ensure no young person faces a barrier when it comes to moving onto the next stage of their lives – whether that’s further or higher education, an apprenticeship or a job.
“I have asked exam boards to work closely with the teachers who know their pupils best to ensure their hard work and dedication is rewarded and fairly recognised.”
However Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the details leave “many questions unanswered”.
But he said teachers are the “experts in their subjects, they know these qualifications inside out, they know their students, and they have the professional skills to assess them accurately.
“We do not subscribe to the notion that exams are the only credible way of assessing qualifications, and this is an opportunity to at least point the way to a less brutal system.”
An Ofqual spokesperson said: “We are working tirelessly to support students affected by these unprecedented and difficult circumstances and to develop, quickly, a fair and consistent process. We know that schools and colleges urgently need to know what they will need to do, and when.”