What now? A guide to the new GCSE and A level teacher assessed grades

What now? A guide to the new GCSE and A level teacher assessed grades

How to navigate the new government guidelines and teacher assessed grades

On January 6 2021, the government confirmed that in Summer 2021, students taking GCSEs, AS and A levels should be awarded grades based on an assessment by their teachers rather than by the traditional examinations. Understandably, these changes have been met with a mixture of emotions and in light of the cancellation of exams there is concern as to what teacher calculated grades consist of and how subjective they will be. To help UK based families to navigate this tricky time we have asked Paula Barrett, the Managing Director of our sister tuition organisation, THE CODE, to outline the changes and give us all tips on how to ensure that students are still reaching their potential given the new government guidelines. 

How will the new calculated grades be awarded?

Teachers will continue to cover new content but have been instructed that they must ensure young people will be assessed on what they have been taught and not according to the syllabus in full. Schools are able to use a range of evidence to make this judgement and the grade must reflect the level that students are currently performing at rather than what their potential may be. Evidence used is the choice of the school which according to the official government guidelines can include:

  1. Past papers and previous assessment materials given to teachers by exam boards
  2. Performance in both homework and classwork
  3. Tests devised by the school themselves that reflect the syllabus and are given as mock exams or internal tests
  4. Coursework

How will schools ensure the grades are fair

To ensure that grades are fair exam boards will be providing teachers with ample resources detailing how to grade work along with exemplary work for each grade. Students will be told by schools how they are being assessed well in advance and are able to highlight any mitigating evidence. There will also be target checks made by the external examining bodies.

How will this affect children with executive function challenges?

In our experience children with executive function challenges often perform better in exams than is expected which can often occur due to cramming. These students may need more support with these new guidelines as they will be expected to submit several assessed pieces of work over a longer period of time which will involve sustained effort.

How can my child ensure they get the grade they deserve this summer.

As teacher assessment is central to the grading system students with executive function challenges, who have struggled to keep up with the home based learning may feel at a disadvantage compared to their neurotypical peers. 

  1. Use a homework planner and put it somewhere visible. This will help to plan ahead and avoid cramming especially for in class tests. For a brilliant demonstration on how memory works, do look at Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve which shows how leaving things to the last minute will never serve you well. 
  2. Ask teachers for help when you can and show you are enthusiastic
  3. Aim to ask a question or two in every class to show you are engaged with the class content!
  4. Ensure that you have the correct revision techniques. These include skills such as spaced interval learning, mock papers and active learning that incorporates testing. To find out more about revision courses please visit https://thecode.education/courses/
  5. Ensure that you are using effective online resources. Savemyexams.com, CGP books and seneca are all excellent examples of support for independent revision.
  6. Implement daily exercise and small personal rewards for positive mental health. 
  7. Consider enlisting the support of a tutor (for subject specific knowledge and techniques) or a coach (for self study strategies and to get on top of your workload)

When will grades be awarded?

Teachers are required to submit final grades by June 18th 2021 and pupils should be prepared for ongoing assessment until then.  Normally students would receive their results towards the end of August but this year A level students will receive grades on August 10th and and GCSE pupils will receive their results two days later on August 12th.

What can students do if they are unhappy with their grade?

Every student will be given the right to challenge the grade awarded if they do not feel that the correct process was adhered to or there was an administrative error leading to an unrepresentative grade. In addition if there were circumstances such as a bereavement at the time of assessment then this will also be taken into account. Appeals will initially go through the school or college where they will have the chance to launch an internal investigation. If an individual is still unhappy then this can be taken up with the exam boards who can look into whether the judgement was fair. If individuals decide to launch an appeal there will be no additional costs if they choose to do so. As an additional option all students will also be offered the chance to sit their exams in the Autumn.

What support is available to me?

For those who are struggling with the changes or are experiencing difficulty there are options available to keep students supported, some of you might also like to consider coaching for your child. 
The CODE education tutors are experts in ensuring that content is delivered in an accessible and focused way whilst helping students to realise their potential. For more information visit the https://thecode.education/ or to book a complimentary 30 minute consultation please email paulasb_85@hotmail.com.

By Paula Barrett, Managing Director of THE CODE

Lily Hewitt-Jones
Lily Hewitt-Jones