Another time of uncertainty faces students who were due to sit GCSEs and A-levels this summer. The cancellation of exams and their replacement with teachers’ estimated grades adds more uncertainty to the process.

Students already have so many concerns, such as whether they worked in vain, or whether all their efforts were necessary. They are asking whether their final grades will reflect their efforts? They need to be reminded that developing an academic profile takes time and effort, the process of brain development requires consistent effort and application.

Exams are just one part of this process, as they form part of the assessment part of learning. However, they are not the sole means of showing the ability and skills that students have. Discipline, the ability to work independently, research skills—all these abilities need to be developed over time. Grades allow access to opportunities and show what you have achieved at a particular point in time. However, they are not the sole means of demonstrating ability.


The social development that takes place in school is highly significant. Students need to be able to work with others and understand how to be part of a team. The loss of friendship and social progression during this pandemic cannot be evaluated.


Is it right to place teachers in the driving seat when it comes to working out grades? After all, they know your children. Teachers have access to the data that will be used to determine grades —test results, mock exam results, assessment grades, etc. We place our trust in teachers for their professionalism and fair judgment. However, students may feel that there are personal issues that could affect their performance; they may feel that some teachers do not like them!


How can we ensure fairness between schools when it comes to these teacherassessed grades? The government has assured the public that they will be providing training for staff, internal moderation and random sampling will take place. Teachers are trusted to be without bias. Would you agree? Could teachers be pressured to give higher grades by parents who want to ensure their children have the best chances of future success?


Results can be contested, so the appeals system will need to be robust to deal with the disappointment when grade outcomes are not what is expected. Will we see a return to the chaos of last summer? Many feel that the grades were overgenerous and their lasting value would be questioned by future employers and universities.


Test papers from the exam board will be issued soon. The voluntary nature of their completion has already raised a number of questions. They have been created to form part.


of the evidence basis that can be used to work out final grades, however, they will be marked by teachers and can be completed by students without the need for exam conditions; they can be taken without a time limit being imposed. It will be interesting to see how they are used by schools and the extent to which they inform the final grade.

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