Full Suite of GCSE and A-Level exams offered in Autumn

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 Paula Antalffy

Students who are unhappy with their predicted GCSE and A-level grades will be able to sit their exams in the Autumn.

The government has announced that those unsatisfied with their GCSE and A-level exams will be able to sit exams in all subjects to try to improve their marks this autumn.

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) issued a statement on Tuesday wasting students would be awarded calculated grades based on teacher assessments this summer. This plan is put in place to give students “the opportunity to move on to further study or employment, despite the cancellation of exams".

The process is also heavily safeguarded, with students being able to appeal at their schools and colleges, if they feel that their grades were not fairly predicted.

Following the rescheduled Autumn exams, replacement certificates will be awarded to students "if students request this”, meaning students can keep their predicted summer grades if these are higher.

This new opportunity for students comes amid criticism for the current system of grade prediction. The University and College Union (UCU) pointed out that: ‘Research has shown that disadvantaged students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to be predicted lower grades than their more affluent counterparts.’

However, they are unsure whether Autumn exams are the right solution: ‘The only option for students who are unhappy with their results is to spin the roulette wheel with high-stakes exams, which will not be the right fit for all and may disadvantage those with special educational needs.’

Full Suite of GCSE and A-Level exams offered in Autumn

There has also been other criticism raised about the rescheduling of exams. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders addresses some practical issues with this plan.

Barton points out concerns about “ how schools and colleges will be able to accommodate and manage a full suite of autumn exams alongside the huge challenge of bringing all their pupils back in September”. This will also have to happen alongside managing the risks associated with coronavirus, and new challenges of “identifying learning gaps, and putting catch-up support in place”.

He suggested an alternative solution: "We had argued for the autumn series to be restricted to A-levels, and GCSE English and Maths.

"However, we understand the pressure on the government and Ofqual to provide the option of a full suite of exams in the event that pupils and parents are unhappy with centre-assessed grades in August."

For any parents who might be concerned about their child’s predicted grade, he assured that the process this year is ‘robust’.

Want to read more about how the new school year will affect pupils? Read our blog about the government catch up fund here.

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