What are teacher assessed grades? What’s happening with GSCE and A-Level exams in 2021

6 January 2021, 14:58

Teacher assessed grades will be awarded in place of exams in 2021
Teacher assessed grades will be awarded in place of exams in 2021. Picture: PA

By Zoe Adams

Gavin Williamson has confirmed exams in 2021 will be replaced by teacher assessment grades but how will this work? And how is it different from 2020?

Teacher assessed grades have been introduced into England following the third coronavirus pandemic lockdown and the second closure of schools.

With schools and colleges closed until at least February half term, GSCEs, A-Levels and some BTEC exams have been cancelled after concerns students wouldn’t be ready to take the summer exams.

This will be the second time exams have been cancelled because of Covid-19 with teachers and students taking on the challenges of home-schooling once again.

What did Gavin Williamson say in his speech today about exams and home-schooling?

So what are teacher-assessed grades and how will they work? Here’s whats happening with GSCE and A-Level exams in 2021:

Gavin Williamson confirmed exams in 2021 would be cancelled after school closures
Gavin Williamson confirmed exams in 2021 would be cancelled after school closures. Picture: PA

What are teacher assessed grades?

Taking a different approach to grading students this year, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed teachers would be responsible for giving out appropriate grades rather than an algorithm.

Currently, there are no specifics on how the grades will be awarded but he said details will be worked out with regulator Ofqual, the exam board and teaching representative organisations.

Gavin Williamson added they would be given “fairly and consistently” following teacher training.

In terms of colleges and BTEC exams, he told the Commons more flexibility was needed.

Williamson said: “I know students and staff have worked hard to prepare for the January exams and assessments of vocational and technical qualifications and we want to allow schools and colleges to continue with these assessments where they judge it is right to do so.

“No college should feel pressured to offer these and we will ensure all students are able to progress fairly.”

Schools are closed in England for a minimum of six weeks leading to exam cancellations
Schools are closed in England for a minimum of six weeks leading to exam cancellations. Picture: PA

How were GSCE and A-Level grades awarded in 2020?

When exams were first cancelled, an algorithm was put in place to mark students, however, Gavin Williamson admitted this was a mistake.

He said: “Last year, all four nations of the United Kingdom found their arrangements for awarding grades did not deliver what they needed, with the impact felt painfully by students and their parents.”