GCSE and A-level students will receive teacher assessment grades in 2021 following the partial closure of schools and colleges – but the grades won’t be adjusted by an algorithm.

Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, confirmed in the House of Commons today that GCSE, AS and A-level exams  will not go ahead this year, and that the government is “going to put our trust in teachers rather than algorithms”.

He said he wished “to use a form of teacher assessment grades, with training and support provided to ensure these awarded fairly and consistently across the country”.

It was announced on Monday that schools and colleges in England will move to online learning for all students except those classed as vulnerable and the children of key workers.

Prime minister Boris Johnson acknowledged at the time it would not be “fair” for exams to go ahead as normal.

Last year, the government was forced to abandon its system of calculated grades after around 40 per cent of centre-assessed A-level grades were downgraded by exam boards, prompted uproar.

Williamson said today that the government had “learned lessons” on exams after last year’s fiasco, during which the arrangements “did not deliver what they needed” with the impact felt “painfully by students and their parents”.

“Although exams are the fairest way we have of accessing what a student knows, the impact of this pandemic now means it is not possible to have these exams this year.

“I can confirm that GCSEs, A levels and AS level exams will not go ahead this summer.  This year we are going to put our trust in teachers rather than algorithms.

“The department and Ofqual had already worked up a range of contingency options. While the details will need to be fine tuned in consultation with Ofqual the exam boards and teaching representative organisations, I can confirm now that I wish to use a form of teacher assessment grades, with training and support provided to ensure these awarded fairly and consistently across the country.”

Ofqual will launch a “detailed” consultation on the plans next week, Williamson added. It will run for two weeks.

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  1. jackie moores

    Its good to hear now, the decision to move to teacher assessed grades for summer 2021. This should give us the time we need to thoughtfully plan for fair and quality assured grades.

  2. George ahali

    Do you honestly feel students with bias teachers stand a fair chance?
    What options are available for students who know they have experienced a teacher being bias towards them?

  3. Hi does anyone know what will happen with home schooled children due to take GCSEs in 2021 I can’t find any information. My son will not want to wait and study another year if he can’t get his grades this year? He wants to study at college but no gcse will mean he can’t get a place?

  4. Dan Lucian

    GCSE 2021 and A level 2021 will be a massive scandal unless you create a fair and unbiased assessment not only by their own teachers. A combination must be really appropriate with a robust tool and grading mark in place.
    If you let only their own teachers this is prone to biases whereas a double check via external would be much more reassuring and fair.