GCSE and A-Level Assessments: How to Trust Teachers to Award Marks

Teachers awarding marks for GCSEs and A Levels for Summer 2021: What you need to know about how your child will be marked.

Due to the ongoing impact of the Corona Virus, the Prime Minister announced on the 4 of January 2021 that exams in Summer 2021 could not go ahead as planned. Following a consultation with over 100,000 responses, alternative arrangements to award grades have been made.

The most important change is that teachers now have the responsibility to award grades to GCSE and A-Levels students.

Blog intro for how to trust teachers to mark GCSEs and A Levels

In this article, we have summarised information from the OFQUAL paper: Information for heads of centre, heads of department and teachers on the submission of teacher assessed grades: summer 2021.

  1. How teachers are being regulated to award marks
  2. What evidence is allowed for teachers to use as evidence for marks
  3. Types of assessment evidence
  4.  The Joint Council for Qualifications shares 5 step process for grading
  5. The steps your child can take to ensure they are successful

How will teachers grade GCSEs?

As a result of the interrupted academic year and the lack of consistent teaching, the responsibility for awarding marks for GCSEs and A-Levels sits with the teachers.

In order to ensure quality, fairness and integrity systems and procedures have been put in place.

  • Grading Policy handed in by April 30th from the school to a grading body.
    This policy outlines:
    – how students will be marked,
    – the internal quality system and
    – the professional development teachers have received to ensure they are capable of following the policy and awarding students the marks.
  • Exam Support Materials have been sent to schools at the end of March. Further materials will be supplied by mid-April. These will include past examiner reports and marked examples of past papers.
  • Support for Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT) and small subject centres to ensure the quality of marks. As a result, “In the case of small subject departments, heads of department may choose to collaborate with neighbouring centres for additional support.”  The Joint Council for Qualifications.
  • Randomised quality checks by exam boards. Schools will also be subject to randomised quality checks by exam boards. Grading boards will review each policy. Should there be any concerns about the policy, then the board could arrange for a virtual meeting to clarify points.
  • Each grade for a subject must be signed off by at least 2 teachers in that subject. One of whom should be the head of department or subject lead.

What evidence is allowed for teachers to use as evidence for marks?

As outlined by OFQUAL in their 2021 Paper:

  • These grades should be based on a range of evidence completed as part of the course. This includes evidence produced in the coming months, which demonstrates the student’s performance on the subject content they have been taught.
  • The evidence could include work which has already been completed during the course as well as that which will be completed in the weeks and months to come.
  • Evidence should relate to the specification content and should reflect, as far as possible, the sorts of questions and tasks that students would normally undertake in preparation for the qualification. Questions and tasks should be appropriately accessible for lower ability students and appropriately demanding to allow higher ability students to demonstrate performance to support higher grades.
  • Questions and tasks should also be accessible for students with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).
  • Centres should make students aware of the sources of evidence that will form the basis of the grades submitted, although students should not be told the final grade that is submitted to the exam board.
  • Should a mark not reflect the child’s normal performance, then they can be provided with other opportunities to include evidence of their capabilities.
Evidence to be used as teachers mark gcses and a levels

Types of assessment evidence

The following types of assessment evidence has been outlined to teachers as being acceptable when awarding marks for GCSEs and A-Levels.

  1. Student work produced in response to assessment materials normally provided by the exam board including past papers, and the groups of questions being provided to support evidence gathering this summer, or similar materials such as practice or sample papers.
  2. Non-exam assessment (NEA) work (often referred to as coursework), even if this has not been fully completed.
  3. Student work produced in centre-devised tasks that reflect the specification, that follow the same format as exam board materials and have been marked in a way that reflects exam board mark schemes. This can include substantial class or homework (including those that took place during remote learning), internal tests taken by pupils and mock exams taken over the course of study.
  4. Records of a student’s capability and performance over the course of study in performance-based subjects such as music, drama and PE.
  5. Records of each student’s standard of work over the course of study.

The 5 Steps Process Teachers will use to Award Marks for GCSEs and A-Levels

A 5 step process outlined by the Joint Council for Qualifications has been released to help make marking easier:

  1. Has the content been taught as deep or superficial teaching?
  2. Collecting the evidence and documenting where students may have missed lessons or assessments for valid reasons.
  3. Evaluating the quality of evidence to ensure that the student has not received more than reasonable support prior to or during the piece is produced.
  4. Is the proposed range of evidence appropriate for all students?
  5. Stick to the facts, not on potential. Target or predicted grades are not permitted.

Successful GCSE and A-Level results

6 top tips we believe will help your child receive a successful result for their GCSEs and A-Levels:

  1. Find out what the marking policy will be. This is released on April 30th
  2. Discuss with teachers what evidence will be used for their grades – they are entitled to know this
  3. Continue to show up, actively participate and contribute to the lessons
  4. No more cramming. They must present their best efforts in all assignments and tasks as course work is now used as evidence
  5. Ensure that they have taken the initiative to cover the material to a level that makes them feel confident. They must be prepared for the next steps.
  6. Partner with an educator who can support them in staying on track, motivated and effective with their learning through 1-1 tuition
Bettering Youth tutors share 5 steps to pass your GCSEs and A Levels in 2021

Concluding thoughts on teachers awarding marks for GCSEs and A-Levels

This is a new and uncharted territory that requires a lot of care, integrity and diligence. However, we have full confidence that our teachers and educators will uphold this responsibility. They will provide students with the best mark that reflects their effort and skill.

In conclusion, we hope that this article has helped to outline the systems, quality checks and evidence to be used to determine the grades of your child.

If you have a child preparing for GCSEs or A-Levels we think these other resources may be useful:

Everything You Need To Know To Successfully Pass Your GCSEs


How To Prepare For GCSE Exams In November

Bettering Youth’s GCSE Tuition

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