OxfordAQA 'Cancels' iGCSE & A-Level Exams

One of the most popular examination boards has cancelled exams in favour of Teacher Assessed Grades
OxfordAQA 'Cancels' iGCSE & A-Level Exams
By James Mullan
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OxfordAQA, one of the largest UK curriculum examination boards, announced today that it is cancelling international GCSE and A-level exams. These will now be replaced by Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs).

Explaining the decision, OxfordAQA’s managing director Sadie Visick said:

“Since the announcement about exams in England being cancelled, we’ve been listening carefully to the views of teachers, parents and students around the world. Many schools have told us that a consistent approach would mean that no student in any school or country would be disadvantaged, and assessing all students in the same way is the only way to be confident grades are comparable and fair.”

Everyone, including us, would have preferred a return to conduct a normal exam series in the summer. But it has become clear that this just won’t be possible, and the fairest thing we can do is ensure a level playing field for all students, and follow the same approach to assessment as in England. We know how crucial Fair Assessment is in preparing students for their futures and enabling them to progress to the next step.”

For clarity, the 'I' in IGCSE stands for International. IGCSEs and A -Levels were created to be more relevant to students learning in an international or non-UK context. International qualifications are a distinct from (but equivalent to) the ‘regular’ British GCSEs and A-Levels (all of which have been cancelled for summer 2021).

At this time, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com understands that two other international exam boards, Pearson and Edxcel, plan to continue with their own international GCSE and A-Level examinations. Quite what the OxfordAQA announcement means for these other exam boards remains to be seen, and the impact of this decision upon equity of opportunity and assessment between students is a contentious point. 

Liam Cullinan, Head of Secondary at Nord Anglia International School Dubai is concerned that these latest exam cancellations have created inconsistency, commenting that,

"Across all iGCSE and GCSE frameworks there should be a common alignment to allow all student’s assessments to be fair, consistent and rigorous. With this in mind, I believe that the only route for the iGCSE is to align themselves with the same decisions that have been made for GCSEs in the UK".

The GEMS Education group are working closely with international exam boards to ensure clarity for students, parents and staff alike. Speaking to WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, a GEMS spokesperson had this to say,

“We have noted today’s news from OxfordAQA and will be offering guidance to all students who are affected by these cancellations. We are in constant contact with all relevant exam boards to ensure that our students are well supported and well informed as this situation unfolds”.

Mike Lambert, Principal of Dubai College laid out the issues around exam cancellations and teacher assessments in a recent opinion piece for WhichSchoolAdvisor.com.

OxfordAQA has now pledged to "work with schools to develop a comprehensive support and training package’ and "… will provide detailed guidance on the process for Teacher Assessed Grades following the outcome of the Ofqual consultation next month."

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