Coronavirus: GCSEs and A-levels will be based on ‘moderated assessment’, says CST leader

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GCSEs and A-levels grades will be awarded “on the basis of moderated assessment” this year following the cancellation of summer exams, a sector leader familiar with the government’s plans has told headteachers.

Leora Cruddas, the chief executive of the Confederation of School Trusts, told members of her organisation in an email last night that she believes there will also be a “mini” exam session in the autumn for those young people “who feel that they could have done better than their predicted grade”.

Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, told Parliament yesterday that schools will close to most pupils from Friday afternoon, and that this year’s SATs, GCSEs and A-levels will be cancelled.

A lack of detail on the proposal has prompted questions and concerns about how university and college admissions will be handled without exam results, and speculation about how the government might handle the matter. Williamson is not due to set out the government’s full plans until tomorrow.

Jonathan Simons, a former Downing Street education adviser and now a director at Public First, wrote in Schools Week last night that the most likely and simplest way to make sure pupils receive grades this year is to have moderated teacher assessment.

And Cruddas, whose organisation represents academy trusts and who has been in regular contact with Williamson and civil servants, said in her letter that this was her understanding too.

“There will be no primary assessment. GCSEs and A-levels will be awarded on the basis of moderated assessment with the exam boards and Ofqual,” she wrote.

“Of course this is not ideal. But I am persuaded there is no better option. For those young people who feel that they could have done better than their predicted grade, I believe there will be mini-session in the autumn.”

It comes after Williamson told the Today Programme this morning that the government’s approach to exams was “not the perfect way that anyone would be wishing to approach it”.

“I’ve looked through every single option, and every single option is so much less than good than the exam process we would usually be going through.

“But we are not going to be in a position where we with confidence would be able to run a full exam programme. We have to make sure we do things to be as fair as possible with all pupils.”

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  1. A mini-session of exams in the Autumn should be firmly ruled out. It is neither logically possible nor considerate. Expecting pupils to be on top of their subjects after months away is expecting too much. It would not just be stressful for young people, parents and teachers, but would delay decisions about post-16 progression which is, after all, the main purpose of these exams.
    Move towards graduation at 18 via multiple routes.

  2. Alexander

    This would be terrible. I’m a first year a level student myself and my predicted grades for my first year are good enough to meet university requirements. I should be focused on preparing my personal statement, not stressing about having to do potentially unfirmiliar assessments. Especially after a period of world pandemic, self isolation and also the fact that A Level and GCSE students are out for 6 months. We should be given an option to choose if we want to do an assessment if predicted grades aren’t correct or just take predicted grade if we’re happy with it.