GCSEs

We know you have many questions about how these qualifications will be assessed in the absence of exams. We’ve produced two graphics explaining the process and a series of FAQs. These Q&As will provide answers to many of the questions you have, and we will add to them as the situation progresses.

 

What is happening with summer examinations this year?

Welsh Government announced that schools would be closed after 20 March and therefore the summer exams could not take place. Learners due to sit their GCSEs this summer will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work. Normal arrangements for reporting of Key Stage 4 performance measures will be suspended for this year. The infographic above outlines the routes available for year 10 and year 11 learners.

 

How will the decision to cancel summer examinations impact me?

The priority is ensuring fairness for learners while following public health advice. Grades for GCSEs in summer 2020 will be calculated using a range of evidence, including centre assessment grades and performance in other external assessments. In determining how we proceed, the focus will be on what is in the best interests of learners both in terms of their current well-being and their progression on to education, training or employment.

Will we have to sit the exams in the autumn?

It is not our intention for learners in Wales to sit their GCSEs in the autumn. Instead they will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work. The exams that usually take place in November (GCSEs in English language, Mathematics, Mathematics-Numeracy and Welsh language) should happen as normal.

How will grades be calculated?

Grades for GCSEs in summer 2020 will be calculated using a range of evidence. They will be based on a combination of factors which may include marks for work completed to date (such as exam units sat in 2019) and centre assessment grades. Centre assessment grades will be based on what teachers would expect a learner to achieve at the end of the course. They need to represent a fair, reasonable and carefully considered judgement of the most likely grade that might be achieved in normal circumstances. This is a professional opinion based on the combined assessment information held for that learner and this will be holistic, rather than focusing on a single piece of evidence, like mock examinations. More information can be found here.

What will happen for learners in Year 10?

Year 10 learners who were due to sit exams that would have led to a whole GCSE qualification this summer will be issued a grade following the same process as year 11 learners.

Year 10 learners who were due to sit units only – that is units that will lead to GCSE results next summer – will not receive calculated results. For those learners, there will be two options. They can;

a) choose to sit units they plan to take in summer 2021, with their overall GCSE grade calculated on the basis of that performance only, or

b) choose to sit the year 10 units in summer 2021, along with year 11 exams.

Whichever option a learner chooses, they will be awarded the best grade from either route.

A summary of these options can be found in this infographic.

Read a blog from our Chief Executive, Phillip Blaker, on ‘The fairest approach for Year 10 learners’: 

https://qualificationswales.org/english/coronavirus---covid-19/blogs/the-fairest-approach-for-year-10-learners/

Will results still be published in August?

Yes – GCSE results will be published on 20 August.

Can I challenge the grade awarded to me, and how do I do that?

We have held a public consultation  on the arrangements for the summer 2020 exams series, including the appeal process. The decisions following the consultation will be made available on our website.

 

I’m a private candidate – how will I get my result?

Where centres have accepted entries from private candidates – learners who might be home-schooled, following distance-learning programmes or studying independently – , they should be included in the centre’s submission of data,  as long as  the Head of Centre is confident that they and their staff have seen sufficient evidence of the learner’s achievement to make an objective judgement. However, there may be cases where centres will not be able to make a judgement on the achievements of a private candidate. JCQ has recently issued additional guidance on this:  

http://jcq.org.uk/media-centre/news-releases/jcq-publishes-supplementary-information-on-validation-of-evidence

How will my centre inform the awarding body of our centre assessment grades and rank order?

Awarding bodies have issued guidance to centres on how to enter their Centre Assessment Grades and Rank Order.  Systems went live on Monday 1st June, and can be accessed through awarding bodies secure websites.

Will the loss of current teaching time be taken into account for learners working towards GCSEs in summer 2021?

We are working with WJEC to establish our approach to exams and awarding qualifications in 2021. Our aim is to ensure that no one is disadvantaged as a result of our current situation. This is a complicated situation. Further information will be made available on our website as soon as possible. Our Head of Standards, Kerry Davies, explains more in her blog: 

https://qualificationswales.org/english/coronavirus---covid-19/blogs/looking-ahead-for-those-halfway-through-courses/

Can schools and colleges consider evidence from specialist teachers or other professionals when making grading and rank ordering decisions?

A centre should, if applicable, seek further information from teachers and other education professionals who have been supporting a learner, to allow them to make secure judgements about centre assessment grades and a learner’s position in the rank order. This might include, for example, seeking information from teachers in another school, college, or alternative provision, such as a hospital setting. It could also include peripatetic or advisory teachers who may work across a number of centres, such as EAL teachers or qualified teachers of deaf, vision impaired and multi-sensory impaired children and young people.