Updated: Aug 5, 2021
These are strange times, aren’t they? By now, I’m sure you’ll be aware of the scale and magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic. Schools have closed and, to ensure the safety of students, teachers and invigilators, all A Level and GCSE summer exams have been cancelled.
But what does this mean for grades? What are the next steps for Year 13 towards university? Should my child wait to take their exams in September? In this brief guide, I hope to answer some of these questions and more!
How Are Grades Going To Be Decided?
Ofqual, the UK exam regulator, has laid out plans for A Level, GCSE and EPQ qualifications so students on these courses will still receive a grade at the end of this academic year, ensuring they are able to progress appropriately. The grades received will be based on a prediction of their summer exam results by their ‘assessment centre’ (i.e. school or college).
Now, this ‘prediction’ may differ to current predicted grades and will take into account a variety of factors to ensure that every student receives a fair result; mock exam results, coursework, class performance and any existing exam results, for example.
Teachers at your child’s school who know how your child performs academically will be making this judgement, which is nothing new: many subjects require internal assessment so teachers are used to making these types of calls about student performance.
Can I Find Out What My Child's Grades Are Now?
It shouldn't come as a surprise that decisions about grades are strictly confidential until they have all been standardised by exam boards during the summer. By that, I mean that once teachers have submitted their forecasts, the exam boards (the people in charge of writing exams for the various GCSE and A-Level subjects) will carefully examine all of the grades provided and make any adjustments to ensure that this year's cohort do not have skewed results.
I must stress (although I am sure it doesn't need saying), please do not try to contact your child's teachers about their grades or attempt to persuade them in any capacity. The current situation is extremely difficult for all education professionals and the last thing they need is stress from parents emailing them for updates about their child's grade!
What If My Child's Grades Are Lower Than Expected?
If you disagree with the final calculated grade, there will still be an appeal process (as there has been in previous years). However, the exact details of this system are still being ironed out and are likely to be revealed at a later date, so I will not hypothesise about how the appeal process will work right now.
There is the possibility of sitting exams in the Autumn if you think that you could achieve a better grade than predicted and there is no risk of doing worse - both grades (from Autumn and the Summer) will stand. This might be your best option in the worst case scenario, but be aware that it will involve revision around the start of the new academic year so organisation will be paramount if top grades are to be achieved.
What About University Admissions and UCAS?
If you're familiar with how UCAS functions on results day then you can blissfully skim read this section. Essentially, university admissions will be working the same way this year as they have done previously. The only difference is that the May deadline for undergraduate applications has been extended and the grades used to determine any conditional offers will be the aforementioned calculated grades. Of course, if things do not quite work out, you always have the option of retaking your exams to gain a higher grade and re-applying or going through clearing to find another course.
So, that's my quick overview of Ofqual's new grading measures under lockdown. If you have further questions, follow the links on this article for more official guidance or drop us a line on our Facebook or Twitter accounts!
Blog Post Crafted by Oscar
Oscar studies Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at the University of Warwick.
When he's not studying PPE or tutoring GCSE Maths and Science, Oscar plays saxophone and is the Musical Director for the University of Warwick Big Band.