Coronavirus: School and college teachers to judge pupils’ grades as exams cancelled

Union says disadvantaged youngsters most likely to miss out

Jane Dalton
Friday 03 April 2020 17:01
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GCSEs were cancelled when schools closed last month
GCSEs were cancelled when schools closed last month

Schools and colleges have been told to rank students within grades for each subject after GCSE and A-level exams were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

England’s exams regulator Ofqual has instructed teachers to provide grades for pupils that reflect “fair, objective and carefully considered” judgments of the results they believe each pupil would have achieved.

Exam boards will contact schools and colleges after Easter to ask them to submit judgments by a deadline that will be no earlier than 29 May.

Schools must not share grades with pupils and parents until final results are issued.

When schools across the UK closed their doors a fortnight ago, some pupils worried that poor relationships with teachers could affect their final marks.


Ofqual says teachers’ judgments should take into account a full range of evidence, including classwork, non-exam assessment, mock exams and previous results.

If grading judgments in some schools and colleges appear more severe or generous than others, exam boards will adjust grades accordingly, the regulator says.

Students will also be able to sit exams at the earliest opportunity in the new academic year.

Ofqual chief regulator Sally Collier said: “School or college-based assessment already has an important role in many GCSEs, AS and A-levels, and in extraordinary circumstances such as these, schools and colleges are best placed to judge the likely performance of their students at the end of the course.” She said Ofqual had reassured pupils that it and exam boards would do everything they could to make sure that grades were fair and pupils were not disadvantaged in future.

Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “These are difficult and unprecedented times and we welcome the speed with which these plans have been pulled together.

“Our primary concern is that disadvantaged students are the ones most likely to miss out. Research shows that they fare badly when it comes to predicted grades and they are less likely to be able to put life on hold and delay sitting exams or have access to the tools required to navigate any appeals system.”

Additional reporting by PA

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