Understanding of exams plummets after switch to teacher grades

And confidence in the system to deal with malpractice also fell

And confidence in the system to deal with malpractice also fell

Understanding of GCSE and A-level exams plummeted last year following the switch to teacher-assessed grades, a new survey shows.

Ofqual’s annual perception poll asked more than 3,000 parents, pupils, school heads and teachers for their views on exams.

The latest results cover the 2020-21 academic year, when teacher-assessed grades were used instead of exams for the second year running.


The survey asked people for their general view of qualifications, and for their views specifically about exams in 2021 – revealing a big gap.

Thirty-three per cent of respondents said GCSEs were well understood by people in 2021, compared to 70 per cent who said they were normally well understood. 37 per cent said they were not well understood in 2021.

The figures were similar for A-levels. In 2021, 32 per cent said the qualifications were well understood in 2021, compared to 69 per cent more generally. Again, 38 per cent said A-levels were not well understood last year.

Exams malpractice confidence drops

Confidence in the system to investigate malpractice also dropped sharply last year, with just 49 per cent of respondents saying they were confident incidents were fairly investigated in 2021. Confidence in the system more generally was 89 per cent.

There was also a big gap between the proportion of people who believed malpractice was properly reported in 2021 (46 per cent) and more generally (62 per cent).

Last year it was revealed that trust in GCSEs and A-levels slumped to 27 per cent and 29 per cent respectively following the exams fiasco in 2020.

Although trust improved slightly in 2021, to 32 per cent for both qualifications, this was still less than half of the level of trust for the exams more generally.

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