Simon Lebus, Chief Regulator, Ofqual

Author: Simon Lebus, Chief Regulator, Ofqual

11/06/2021 13:02:21

As you know, qualification results are being derived differently this year after the government decision that formal exams should not go ahead. As governors and trustees, you will have already had discussions with the head and senior team about the approach being taken in your school this summer.

As the deadline for submission of teacher assessed grades (TAGs) approaches, I want to set out some of the key milestones during the next month or so and ask for your support in making sure your school meets those deadlines, so results are not delayed.

Teachers have been asked to assess their students’ performance on the subject content they have been taught and have deliberately been given choice in how they do so. This flexibility recognises the different situations in which schools might find themselves this year. Your school will have developed a policy setting out how it will determine GCSE, AS and A level grades, including how teachers will assess students’ performance and how grades will be checked within the school before they are sent to the exam boards. The policy will have been submitted to the exam boards for checking and should also be available to students at your school.

For GCSEs, AS, A levels and some vocational and technical qualifications such as BTECs, schools can now submit their TAGs to the exam boards. The deadline for submission is Friday 18 June. This deadline must be met as any delay in submitting TAGs could mean delays in issuing results to students, which would be distressing for everyone involved. You may wish to check with your head of centre or executive that everything is on track to meet this deadline.  

Once the TAGs have been submitted, the exam boards will move to the final stage of the quality assurance process, when they will check a sample of student work to make sure it supports the grades awarded. Your school will be required to provide the evidence for 15 students – five  students in each of three subjects. The exam board will decide which subjects and which students, and they will contact your school in the week beginning 21 June to request this material. It is important that this evidence is sent promptly, within 48 hours of the request, so the quality assurance work can start as soon as possible. Any delay in providing this evidence could mean exam boards having to contact schools after the end of term, and potentially requiring teachers’ attention during the summer holiday when they should be having a well-earned rest. It could also lead to delays to your school’s results.

So that your school is ready to submit this evidence, it is important that the evidence is properly organised now. That means when the school receives the request, it will be able to respond quickly.  

I am aware of the pressure these exceptional arrangements will have placed on your teachers and senior teams. They will have been working hard to determine the grades for students and they will feel the weight of responsibility on them in coming to these decisions, knowing what they do of students’ hopes and aspirations. And, of course, the challenges of determining TAGs come on top of the wider challenges of the pandemic which has touched all our lives. 

The last year has been a tremendously difficult time, but I hope I have been able to provide you with some reassurance that your part in this process is valued and arrangements are the best that they can be in the circumstances. 

Results will be published on 10 August for AS, A levels and other Level 3 qualifications, and 12 August for GCSEs and other Level 2 qualifications. These combined results days mean that results for qualifications used for progression are issued at the same time, enabling GQ and VTQ learners to compete fairly for places.

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