Ofqual opted to make no adaptations to the majority of exams in the autumn series despite flagging it would mean “some students could be examined on aspects that they have not been taught”.
Board minutes from a March 17 meeting, published today, show that student preparedness was a “key concern” for the regulators following the proposal that exams in the autumn would be conducted as normal.
The minutes explain that a December consultation on potential adaptations for summer exams, prior to the government’s decision to scrap them, emphasised the need for student support to manage adaptations, and risks to disadvantaged and disabled students where support was not available.
Ofqual’s board questioned “whether the proposal not to adjust autumn 2021 exams was the right one” but was informed of the “potential negative impact on disadvantaged and disabled students had factored significantly in the proposals”.
The minutes add: “The proposal will, however, mean that some students could be examined on aspects that they have not been taught.”
This point would be considered alongside responses to the consultation in forming Ofqual’s policy, the minutes say.
Concerns were raised by teachers on Tuesday that pupils would be tested on topics they had not been taught during the autumn exam series, as reported by The i.
Any pupil who received a teacher-assessed grade (TAG) this summer or who an exam board believes would have entered for exams in summer is eligible to take the corresponding GCSE, AS and A level exam this autumn.
In May, Ofqual decided that “autumn exams should be in their normal format and that no adaptations should be made (other than reasonable adjustments for students with special educational needs or disabilities)”.
Ofqual stated this will ensure arrangements are familiar to students and avoids the risk that such arrangements would advantage students “who have access to support over others”.
They also said this decision will avoid additional costs and workload for teachers, exam officers and the exam boards.
Previously agreed on adjustments in some GCSE and AS subjects
All exams will be in their normal format apart from a select number of GCSE and AS subjects which will be assessed in the same way as had previously been planned for the summer 2021 exam series.
This means pupils sitting a GCSE in English literature, history and ancient history will answer questions on a reduced number of topics.
While modern foreign language GCSE pupils will have a “speaking endorsement rather than a speaking test”.
Finally, in GCSE and AS geography pupils will not have to answer questions about their fieldwork experience.