Coronavirus: Examination information from Mr Northern
March 25, 2020

I write to advise you as to what we have learnt to date regarding the award of GCSE, AS and A Level grades in Summer 2020.

A number of statements have been issued by various government bodies, and we have scrutinised them in order to extract every useful detail that we can. I have attempted to summarise them as follows:

Qualifications Wales (the Welsh Government examination regulator) provides some clarity about the form of the “calculated grades”:

  • They will be based on “what teachers would expect a learner to achieve at the end of the course”;
  • “They need to represent a fair, reasonable and carefully-considered judgement of the most likely grade that might be achieved in normal circumstances”;
  • “This is a professional judgement based on the combined assessment information held for that learner and will be a holistic judgement, rather than focusing on a single source of evidence like mock examinations”;
  • “These are not target grades or aspirational grades”.

Department for Education (with overall responsibility for education in England):

  • GCSE, AS and A Level candidates will be awarded a grade in each subject which “fairly reflects the work they have put in”, and the process of creating this calculated grade will be delegated to Ofqual, the government examination regulator in England;
  • “The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead. To produce this, teachers will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in”;
  • “The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July”;
  • “There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to”.

As you will understand, we are now eagerly awaiting clarification of the above, and the WJEC (one of the Awarding Bodies that we use) suggests that it will be in April that we will receive details of the information that we have to provide and the deadline for the submission of this same data.

Please be assured that we are working hard to assemble all the data available, and my colleague Michael Farnell is already compiling an extensive spreadsheet to this purpose so that our response can be timely, accurate and (most importantly) in the very best interests of our pupils. Nevertheless, there remain many questions to be answered about this process, and I shall be back in contact with you just as soon as further information is released.

Best wishes,

Guy Northern

Examinations Officer

Appendix to show which GCSE, AS and A Level subjects are regulated in England or in Wales

The majority of our examination subjects in Summer 2020 are provided by the Awarding Bodies (AQA, Cambridge Technicals, Edexcel / Pearson, Eduqas and OCR) which are supervised by the government regulator for England, Ofqual.

Only the following subjects provided by the WJEC fall within the remit of the Welsh regulator, Qualifications Wales:

  • A Level: None.
  • AS Level: Biology, Chemistry, Design Technology, Physics.
  • GCSE: Additional Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Science (Dual Award).