Dear Grey Court Community
Last night the Government introduced further measures for the containment of Coronavirus. The timeline takes us into the Easter holidays, and I will continue to keep you updated on any developments. Yesterday, I referred to updates from the DfE on how grades for Y11 and Y13 students will be decided, and this message deals with this important information.
We have distilled the DfE guidance below, if you would like to read the update from the DfE in full, please click here.
It should be noted that this guidance is not definitive and the DfE and Ofqual (the independent exams regulator) are still in consultation. Once this consultation is complete we will be contacted with the details and procedures on how to award grades for GCSE qualifications. We appreciate that this uncertainty is causing stress, confusion, and anxiety for all involved, and we recognise that it may be challenging to motivate Y11 students whilst we wait for further guidance.
Please follow this advice and guidance whilst we wait for a more detailed update from DfE and Ofqual:
Coursework: We strongly advise ALL Y11 students who are relying on coursework as part of their end of course assessment to ensure that (where possible) all coursework is completed and sent to their teachers by Easter.
BTEC: Those students who are taking BTEC qualifications need to complete all their coursework before Easter. This is extremely important as the exam boards are likely to request to see this work. Please follow the guidance and work that your teachers are setting and make sure you meet the deadlines they set. If you have questions or are struggling with the work please ask your teachers this week, don't leave it too late.
Existing Y11 work: Please stress to all students that staff are setting them work through Google Classroom and they should be engaging with this work. This work allows students the opportunity to complete the course content by Easter. The reasoning behind this is so when students start their respective sixth form or college courses they will have less chance of having a knowledge deficit on account of their GCSE studies being curtailed prematurely.
Entry into Grey Court Sixth Form: To ensure that all students are on the most suitable courses possible at Grey Court Sixth Form we will be holding, wherever possible, a series of exams. The exact nature of these exams is being confirmed, their primary role is to make sure that students are not enrolling and studying subjects in the sixth form that they are not best suited to. We will update you on the finer details of these exams in the coming weeks. This means students should continue with their academic studies to ensure they perform well in these exams.
A final point to note: The DfE has stated that past performance of the school is one measure they will consider. This means that the previous success of Grey Court and the progress it has made by consistently achieving results in the top 10% of the country will be favourable to our current Y11 students
These questions and answers are quoted directly from the DfE guidance
What will happen to those who have already done some non-exam assessment?
The calculated grade process will take into account a range of evidence including, for example, non-exam assessment and mock results, and the approach will be standardised between schools and colleges. Ofqual is working urgently with the exam boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and will be talking to teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that the approach taken is as fair as possible.
Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator, will develop a fair and robust process that takes into account a broad range of evidence, including teacher assessment and prior attainment. Ofqual will make every effort to ensure that the process agreed does not disadvantage any particular group of students.
Pupils who do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance will have the opportunity to sit an exam, as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again.
Will all students get their predicted grade? No, we know that simply using predicted grades would not be fair to all students. The calculated grade will take into account teachers’ assessment of the likely grade as well as other factors such as prior attainment, so students’ final grades will not necessarily reflect their predicted grades.
Will the past performance of the school be taken into account when devising the calculated grade? Ofqual will carefully consider how to ensure the process is as fair as possible, which is likely to include considering measures that reflect how much progress a student would have been likely to have made at the school they are attending.
What if I am unhappy with my grade? We will work closely with Ofqual and awarding organisations to ensure candidates are awarded a fair grade that recognises the work they have put in. If a student does not believe the correct process has been followed in their case they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam, as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.
What about vocational and technical qualifications? No exams will be taking place in schools and colleges this summer.
There is a very wide range of different vocational and technical qualifications as well as other academic qualifications for which students were expecting to sit exams this summer. These are offered by a large number of awarding organisations, and have differing assessment approaches – in many cases, students will already have completed modules or non-exam assessment which could provide evidence to award a grade. We are encouraging these organisations to show the maximum possible flexibility and pragmatism to ensure students are not disadvantaged. Ofqual is working urgently with the sector to explore options and we will work with them to provide more details shortly.
Daily Registration: We would ask Y12 students to make contact with their tutor via Google classroom at the beginning of every day.
Examinations: Due to the loss of teaching time and the closure of schools Y12 teachers have been asked to prepare students for the 2021 A-level examination series. This means that we will not be preparing students for AS qualifications and will not deliver material that is only appropriate for these examinations.
Coursework: We would encourage any student who has a coursework component in their BTEC qualification or AS qualification to submit their work in its entirety (wherever possible) by Easter.
Classwork: Teachers will, therefore, be setting tasks that encourage students to absorb content and respond with sets of notes, exercises and short essays in the time left before Easter. Whilst students will be given the opportunity to engage in wide reading and independent learning we feel that at this juncture short, achievable and focused tasks are the way ahead.
We will then work towards starting Y12 students on A2 content as well as the Extended Project Qualification (should they wish to take it) after the Easter holidays if the present situation continues.
The Department of Education has released an updated statement that is intended to clarify questions that students, parents and teachers may be asking about the decision to cancel AS and A-level examinations this summer.
Mock Examinations: We have made the decision to cancel this set of mock examinations due to the fact that the main examinations have been cancelled.
Coursework: We strongly advise ALL Y13 students who are relying on coursework as part of their end of course assessment to ensure that (where possible) all coursework is completed and sent to their teachers by Easter. This includes all work associated with the Extended Project Qualification
Existing Y13 work: we will be asking Y13 teachers to set work that allows students the opportunity to complete the course content by Easter. The reasoning behind this is so when students start university courses they will have less chance of having a knowledge deficit on account of their A-level studies being curtailed prematurely.
We are expecting OFQUAL and the appropriate exam boards to publicise more specific guidance by the end of this week which will inform our decision making and strategies to ease anxieties about the transition to university and apprenticeship pathways.
We have also noted the Government's proposal that students will have the opportunity to sit A-level should they wish when examinations resume in the UK.
Once some clarity is provided by the DfE we would look to develop some pre-university teaching materials that will help students make a successful transition onto their university courses.
Finally, over the next few days, Heads of Sixth Form across the borough are looking to share good practice and strategies so that our Y13 students are provided with positive outcomes when the current situation is resolved.
Should you have any additional queries, please contact me. As mentioned, we will continue to keep you updated on this, and any other developments.
Thank you for your support and please do take care.