Yesterday, the Education Secretary wrote to all MPs following the announcement that GCSE and AS and A level students will receive the centre assessment grades submitted by their teachers this year. This Dear Colleague letter has been attached at the bottom of this article for those who wish to read it in full.
Following the release of A Level results on Thursday, Julia and her office have been assisting students that unfortunately had seen their predicted grades, as provided by their teachers, downgraded by the standardisation algorithm introduced by Ofqual. In addition to liaising closely with the affected students, Julia had also been in touch with ministers within the Department for Education to highlight constituents’ concerns.
Following the publication of last week’s results, the government looked into the anomalies and concerns raised by schools and colleges with the Chair and Chief Executive of Ofqual. They came to the conclusion that reverting to centre assessment grades would be the fairest approach for young people.
GCSE students will therefore receive their centre assessment grades on Thursday, or their calculated grade if it was higher. A level students will be reissued with their centre assessment grades – any students who received a calculated grade higher than their centre assessment grade will still receive the higher of the two. This will result in some grade inflation, but this was deemed to be the fairest approach to avoid some students receiving grades that did not reflect their prior performance.
Most technical qualifications, including BTECs, were not subject to the same statistical standardisation approach as the Ofqual model for A levels and GCSEs. Vocational and technical students tend to take modular units which are assessed at regular points during their course. Regarding BTECs in particular, the awarding organisation, Pearson, has confirmed that to ensure fairness the very small number of grades that were adjusted after quality assurance checks will be reviewed on a case by case basis with the school or college.
For the small number of qualifications that did use a statistical standardisation approach similar to the Ofqual model for A levels and GCSEs, the relevant awarding organisations have been asked to review their approach. This is likely to mean a small proportion of results may be reissued, but the overwhelming majority of grades submitted by teachers for technical qualifications were not altered.
The government is aware that the move to centre assessed grades has significant implications for universities and students, so is lifting student number caps to help ensure there is no barrier to students being able to progress. Ministers are working with the sector to create additional capacity and ensure they are as flexible as possible and are setting the expectation that they honour all offers made and met. The Universities Minister is coordinating this work through a taskforce.
Any students who previously missed their offer who will now meet it on the basis of their centre assessment grade should seek contact with the admissions tutor at their university as soon as possible. The Education Secretary has also said that those who accepted another offer will be able to release themselves if they have a preferred offer reinstated.
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