A levels to be awarded through teacher judgement and mock results

Students will also have the option of sitting an exam in September, as NUS says proposed methodology is ‘heartening’

March 20, 2020
Source: iStock

A-level grades this year will be based on an assessment made by teachers combined with other relevant data, including prior attainment.

Teachers will be asked to submit judgments about the grades they think their A-level students would have received if this year’s exams had not been cancelled due to coronavirus.

Universities have said they have accepted they will have to be “flexible” when it comes to admissions this year.

Teachers will make their judgements based on “a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment”, the Department for Education said in a statement.

It said guidance on how to do this “fairly and robustly” would be provided to schools and colleges. The changes will ensure “GCSE, A- and AS-level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in”, the statement said.

There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to, along with the option of sitting the exams in summer 2021.  

The exam regulator Ofqual and the exam boards will discuss the plans with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, but they said that students should expect to receive their grades at the end of July. Usually, grades are published at the end of August.

The government said it would also aim to ensure that the distribution of grades follows a similar pattern to that of other years, “so that this year’s students do not face a systematic disadvantage as a consequence of these extraordinary circumstances”.

The news means that university admissions will not be based solely on predicted grades, which have been widely criticised as inaccurate, particularly for less-advantaged students who are often underpredicted.

However, Johnny Rich, chief executive of the Engineering Professors’ Council and a higher education consultant, tweeted that while “the approach proposed is not the same as predictions, it is similar and so the biases are likely to persist”.

“This means that university access, if based on the July grades, will be biased towards the socially advantaged students, deepening the inequities in the system at a time when so many are working hard to improve,” he said.

The announcement also said that students would have the ability to appeal their grades if they feel they have been treated unfairly.

In a joint statement, university leaders said that they “are committed to doing all they can to support students and applicants and ensure they can progress to university. This will involve being flexible and responsive in their admissions processes.”

“We want to reassure students who have applied to university, or are thinking of doing so through clearing, that every effort will be made to ensure they are not disadvantaged in any way by the decision not to go ahead with exams this summer,” said the statement, which was signed by the leaders of the university mission groups: the Russell Group, MillionPlus, University Alliance and GuildHE.

NUS vice-president for further education Juliana Mohamad Noor said it was “heartening” to see that the approach was not based solely on one set of predicted grades.

“We hope they will be working on an approach which reflects the achievement of students fairly, takes into account this disrupted and stressful year and supports them to achieve their potential. We would like to see young people and those affected brought further into the conversation about the exact process which will be used to determine the grades: it is their attainment and work at stake, and it is vital they are represented in this process,” she said.


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Reader's comments (10)

I must say that predictable grades be based on O Levels and A Levels past grades. Normally students don't go for best during classes tests. They started good study by end for final papers. So fairly stated that past O and A Levels grades must be counted please.
Hi there, I am a Cambridge student from Pakistan who had done O levels, As-level and now I was preparing for the A2 exam for May June session which are canceled because of COVID'19.Being a Pakistani student I am not going to have certificate in July on predicted grades like pupil in UK. Despite this, not only my university's admission going to be cancel but also my future dreams are going to be ruin. Secondly, I want to request Cambridge management to provide final grades to the Pakistani students at least to those who are going to join university in this year,because it's a matter of their future and show equality. It's a humble request, Please focus on it. A2 student, From Pakistan.
I am applying to a Canadian university, who needs me to complete A-level.
Will this be acceptable in Singapore?
My name is Orlando Forbes and because of covide 19 I did not get to do my test am so so so so sad right now
wish to admit in uk universities but the poor countries can't afford it is r equisted to start some modern courses free online we will learn
How will private candidates who are retaking a levels be treated
I would like to if cambridge can clarify regarding A level, AS level and IGCSE students in India- what is the situation here. If exams are cancelled in the UK it should apply to kids in India too as we are now under lockdown too and students have missed out on many study hours. Martina
This is just so unfair. My school has been grading me A but I know I had a good chance of getting A* in Math and Physics. Teachers are going to be very circumspect in awarding A* because they are being cautioned to use the predicted grades based on the conservative assessments. This completely disregards the fact that some students work extremely hard in the last few months and their predicted grades are not accurate.
I took my A-levels almost 20 years ago, but would have been ruinous for my chances of getting into one of my preferred universities. It wasn't until late stage of upper sixth that I truly got to grips with most of my subjects - allowing me to surpass my predicted grades by up to two grades in some cases. Unfair on late developers - allow for summer exams and push back academic year by a few months.