Private candidates allowed to transfer exam centres amid concerns of missing out on grades

Private candidates such as youngsters who are permanently home-schooled will now be allowed to transfer to another exam centre amid concerns they may miss out on getting grades this summer.

Under Ofqual’s plans to award calculated grades this summer after exams were cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak, exam boards can only issue results for pupils where their school believes they can properly produce a centre-assessment grade and rank order.

In most cases, private candidates do not have a relationship with the school that is listed as their exam centre – they just attend the centre to sit the exam paper.

Recent reports stated that private candidates were facing missing out on grades as some schools did not feel confident enough to issue scores.

In this case, Ofqual had said youngsters would have the opportunity to take exams at a future date – such as this autumn.

But the exams regulator has now confirmed that exam boards will allow for “some private candidates to transfer to another centre, ahead of the grading process this summer, if the centre where they had registered decides it cannot submit a centre assessment grade”.

“In this case, some other centres, such as those with experience of working with distance learners, may be able to work with some more of those private candidates who need a grade this summer in order to progress.”

They add to ensure the grading process is fair, the head of centre must have the same level of “confidence” in the grade and rank order position as for all other students.

“The exam boards will expect centres who are willing and approved to work with private candidates in this way to utilise any capacity to prioritise candidates who need to receive a grade to progress this summer.”

In updated guidance published this morning, the exam boards have also set out alternative sources of evidence a school or college might consider if they do not have enough evidence about a students’ attainment to submit a centre assessment grade and rank order information.

It states work produced independently by the youngster – for example under the supervision of a family member or independent tutor who the school has no existing relationship with – should not be relied upon, unless “centre validation has taken place”.

Validation includes making the youngster sign a declaration that the work was done is their own or running remote mock assessments.

Any evidence being relied upon for the submitted grade should be kept.

On transferring to a new centre, the guidance states schools should only accept a transfer for a new student they have no prior relationship with the permission of the exam board.

Sally Collier, chief regulator at Ofqual, said it is “vital all grades are determined using a robust and consistent process so that everyone can have confidence in them”.

She added: “We welcome the additional guidance exam boards have set out which will provide further opportunities for private candidates to be graded this summer, and support them in moving on to the next stage of their lives.”

Ofqual said students who have not already been in touch with the centre where they were registered should contact the centre now – or talk to their exam board for information about working with a new centre.