On the 3rd of April, Ofqual (the body which regulates qualifications in the UK) released guidance on how GCSEs and A Levels will be awarded in 2020 now that exams have been cancelled this summer as a result of COVID-19. The full guidance can be found here, but I have produced a summary for students and parents.

At present, Ofqual is suggesting that teachers will be ranking students from highest to lowest for each subject and recommended grade. The teachers are supposed to base their assessment on the classwork and homework that the student has completed to date (including mock exams). Ofqual will then try to standardise the recommended grades from each school using past attainment data for the whole school and may adjust the grades of some or all students accordingly (but our understanding is that they will not alter the ranking of students).

Schools, colleges and their teachers are strictly forbidden from sharing their recommended grades with students and parents until the final results have been confirmed. The rules are different for private candidates (who are studying at home already / with a tutor).

For private candidates, the Head of each Exam Centre (i.e. school or private exam centre) has been asked to include any private candidates that are scheduled to take exams there within the rank order that they submit to Ofqual, where they have seen sufficient evidence of the student’s prior attainment.

I understand that this will be a matter of significant concern for many private candidates. The Department for Education is “urgently exploring alternative options” and says it will provide updated guidance. The issue of private candidates has been raised directly with the FE/HE (further education and higher education: colleges and universities) sector and these institutions are expected to consider a range of evidence to allow such students to progress.

Therefore, at this time, I would recommend that any private candidates who are relying on specific grades in order to secure places for further study at another institution contact those institutions and be prepared to provide a comprehensive range of evidence to demonstrate their ability to progress on to appropriate courses.

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.