Sharing our thinking as we go

For learners, exams are usually about answering the questions. This summer there are no exams, which means we’ve had to find the answers to some big questions ourselves.

  by Jo Richards, Executive Director Regulation

For anyone who was expecting to get set for summer exams, these last few weeks will have felt bizarre. The usual worries about getting the answers right have been replaced with a whole set of questions about what happens next.

As the regulator, our job is to oversee the system so that things run well, protecting the interests of learners. Our guiding light is fairness for them.

In our QW team, we’ve been working since March to find the best possible solutions. We’ve also been working with other organisations across the education sector, with all sides pulling together for the greater good. It is, we must remember, a totally unique situation within an unprecedented time in living memory for all.

Along the way, as those answers have become clearer, we have shared what we know as early as possible. Sometimes that has led to more questions, and we have tried to respond to them all. Some answers have needed more explanation to become clear and we hope we have provided further clarity here. For example AS levels and Year 10 are complex because we are calculating grades rather than marks, which then can’t be used as marks next year to generate the qualifications grades for A level or GCSE.

This week, we’ve shared our thinking behind the approach for this summer, with our consultation. It shares our aims for the statistical model used to standardise grades and the specific appeals process available.

The standardisation model is paramount so that this year’s results are fair across this cohort and also in comparison with other years. We need to protect all learners from disadvantage.

The appeals process can’t work in the usual way because there is no exam marking process to appeal against. Instead, grades will be calculated from a range of evidence, with teacher judgement one element of that.

We know not everyone will agree with the proposals, and we are open to other alternatives. If the consultation feedback suggests a viable solution we haven’t already thought of, we’ll pay close attention.

The decisions we have to take in these difficult circumstances won’t always be popular with everyone. As we’ve said previously there are no perfect solutions. But they will be the right ones, and we will explain our workings so that people can understand.

A good way to keep in touch with developments directly is to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Our website also has regular updates and we have a newsletter you can subscribe to here.

The consultation runs until 5pm on Wednesday 13th May. 

Published 1 May 2020