As all GCSE exams are cancelled, students will receive teacher-assessed grades. These grades, based on mock exams, coursework, essays and in-class tests, need to be submitted to the relevant exam board by June 18, 2021.
No algorithm will be used by exam boards to standardise teachers’ grades if they appear too generous.
Exams watchdog Ofqual says that teachers’ assessment is taking place as late as is practicable "so that students could continue to be taught for as long as possible".
Education minster Gavin Williamson said:
“This year’s students will receive grades determined by their teachers, with assessments covering what they were taught and not what they have missed. Teachers have a good understanding of their students’ performance and how they compare to other students this year and from those of previous years.”
There is no minimum requirement for how much content a student has studied for their GCSE or A Levels this year. While in a normal year it is expected that students have been taught the whole curriculum, Ofqual says that it is difficult to measure content coverage this year.
"Setting a threshold would potentially mean that students who did not meet that threshold, through no fault of their own, could not get a grade, which could be unfair. It is important, that students have been taught enough content to enable them to progress to the next stage of their education or to employment, but it is difficult to define precisely what that means for individual students who will have different planned progression routes."
GCSE results be published on August 12, around eight days earlier than previous years. Teachers are not allowed to tell students’ their final grade before results day.
Results days in Scotland and Wales will remain as previously announced – A Levels on August 24 and GCSEs on August 27.
Students will be able to appeal their grades, and a final decision will be made by the exam board. Grades can go up or down as the result of an appeal. Appeal fees are likely to be scrapped to allow all students in England the chance to appeal their grades at no additional cost.
Students can appeal to their school if they feel teachers did not go through the right process when issuing grades, or if there has been an administrative error. They can also challenge a grade if they feel that circumstances such as a bereavement at the time of an assessment, were not taken into account. The school can then decide to change the grade if it agrees that a mistake has been made.
If this appeal is unsuccessful and a student is still unhappy with their grade, they can appeal to the exam board.
Students who are unhappy with their grade can choose to sit an examination in the autumn term 2021, and the government has said that there needs to be a full series of GCSE, AS and A Level examinations held in the autumn. Alternatively, students can enter again for the summer 2022 exams.
For GCSE, AS and A Level art & design, which are 100% non-exam, students’ grades will be based on their portfolio only. Ofqual says that "students should not be penalised if, due to circumstances beyond their control, they were unable to complete their portfolio".