Dear Parents and Carers, 30th January 2021
A-Levels and GCSEs in 2021
As we know, there will not be conventional A-level and GCSE exams this summer and the Government has begun to work out what will take their place via a public discussion, this consultation has now ended but while we wait for the final decisions, I thought it would be helpful for parents to see what the direction of travel was and how Ferndown Upper is going to react.
The Government’s proposal is over 40 pages long and can be read in full here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-how-gcse-as-and-a-level-grades-should-be-awarded-in-summer-2021 but the key points are outlined below:
- Exams will be based upon teacher assessment, but it will be very different from the methods used last summer.
- Grades will be awarded on what candidates actually know, understand and can do, rather than on what they would have been able to achieve had there not been a pandemic. This is a good thing for our students because of their excellent work ethic and engagement during lockdown. We moved to live lessons straight away and our students will now bear the fruit of this decision.
- Exam boards will provide question papers which may – or must – be used by schools. They will be marked by teachers in the school. We have already decided to have our students sit Ferndown Finals and will adapt these papers so that they are fully relevant for our students.
- For each candidate, in each subject, a dossier of information will be assembled. The marked exam paper (see above) will be an important part of this, probably the main part. At Ferndown we have decided that it will not be the only way we will determine each students’ final grade. One of the advantages of the way we assess here at FUS, with a live current grade held on Go4Schools, is that we have a lot of other detailed evidence to use.
- The dossier could also include other work, such as a marked mock paper. We will use the November mock results to help us decide upon the students’ final grades.
- Taking the dossier as a whole, the teacher will propose an overall grade. Training will be given as to how this should be done.
- Exam boards will check on the methods which schools are using to reach their decisions. They will also sample individual dossiers.
- Once the exam board is satisfied, candidates will be told their grades. If a candidate believes their work has been graded wrongly, they may appeal.
- The school will then appoint an independent person to reassess the dossier concerned. This may result in the grade going up or down.
- A further appeal would also be possible. This would be to the exam board and would not involve the individual candidate’s dossier of work, but a check on whether the school had followed the correct procedures throughout.
So, it is vitally important for Y11, 13 and 10 (for their English Language GCSE) to keep applying themselves fully to their remote lessons and we will now start to discuss topics and revision with them.
The intended mocks (for Y11 and Y13) that were scheduled for after half term have now been rescheduled and will become the ‘Ferndown Finals’ and will dove tail with the students returning to school.
Ferndown Finals will be sat at the best time for our students and with the added safely net of using the student’s Go4Schools record, which includes the mock exams before Christmas, if the students do not perform to their full potential.