On 3 April 2020, Ofqual published guidance for the first time on how grades will be awarded for specified exam courses.
Key aspects of the Ofqual grading procedure are:
There will clearly be challenges in managing the perception and concerns of parents and pupils (which are already being reported) that outcomes and, perhaps, opportunities will be poorer using a system which estimates grades based on past performance. These concerns are understandable, and schools will want to do what they can to offer reassurance. Ofqual also announced on 15 April that a consultation has now been launched on the arrangements for exam grading and assessment in 2020, with the aim of canvassing opinion on creating a fair approach for all pupils concerned. For further information, please see the link here.
However, schools must ensure that they do not enter into any discussions with parents or pupils which could compromise a fair process. In particular, Ofqual has said that schools must not discuss grades or rank with parents and pupils, and it will be prudent to avoid entering into any substantive dialogue concerning the school's particular approach. Ofqual has produced guidance for pupils and parents, which you should refer them to in response to questions over process, fairness and accuracy.
Awarding bodies are issuing their own guidance. Schools are encouraged to engage with them early in relation to any issues with interpretation to ensure that they are adopting the right processes from the outset.
Further guidance will follow in due course concerning a right of appeal against final grade decisions, but this is expected to be very narrow. However, pupils who are dissatisfied with final grades will have the opportunity to sit the exams at a later date, and retain both grades. We would encourage schools to think early about their arrangements for supporting pupils who miss target grades, and about responding to feedback once grades are published in the summer.
In the meantime, there will be a significant amount of work to be done by schools, and parents can be reminded that this is taking place to ensure that their children still receive the grades they deserve in spite of the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in.