Exams and grading webinar discussion with Ofqual


Parentkind recently sat down with Ofqual to put to the exams regulator questions from parents about the arrangements for this year's GCSE, AS-level and A-level examinations.

The video below sees Ofqual's Executive Director for General Qualifications, Julie Swan, in conversation with Parentkind's Executive Director Kerry-Jane Packman.

Take a look if you want to find out more about:

  • Where to find the advance information available to students this year
  • What happens if your child misses an exam due to testing positive for COVID-19
  • How this year's grade boundaries will be determined
  • The consideration that has been given to students' health and wellbeing
  • The implications of more generous grading, and many more questions from parents


Additional Ofqual Q&A

As not every question from parents was answered on the day, Ofqual kindly agreed to take away with them those that hadn't been responded to and provide written answers. Please see their responses below.

Q: How are the gaps in education provision due to remote learning factored into the exam papers and the grading?

A: Students deserve the level playing field that exams allow – with all students sitting the same papers at the same time, and their responses anonymised for marking. But it’s only right that we give them every reasonable form of support as we reintroduce exams this summer.

There is a package of support in place for all students taking GCSEs, AS and A levels this summer, including advance information, optional topics or content in some GCSE subjects and support materials. Examiners will be more generous when setting grade boundaries than they were in 2019, when summer exams last took place. This will provide a safety net for students who might otherwise have just missed out on a higher grade.

It’s important to remember that exams are there to measure what a student knows, understands and can do – exams cannot take into account the extent to which a student’s education has been disrupted.

You can find more information about the support in place for each subject at GCSE, AS and A level on the Ofqual website.

Q: What subjects will be offered in November?

A: GCSE English language and maths will be offered in the November series. Entry to these exams is restricted to students who are 16 and over.

Q: How will the transition between GCSE and A level work when such large amounts of content have been removed from GCSE exams?

A: Subject content is a matter for the Department for Education. The government believes it is important that students cover the curriculum as fully as possible, so that they are as well prepared as possible for progression to the next stage of their education. The Department for Education has worked closely with exam boards to understand which elements of assessment can be made optional without an adverse impact on student progression within the subject. Where this is not the case, optionality has not been implemented. As part of the joint consultation between Ofqual and the Department for Education, views from teachers and the broader sector were considered to ensure appropriate decisions were made for each subject. The Department for Education expects schools to cover the whole curriculum if possible, and so would expect that even content not being assessed will still be taught in most cases.

Q: Can we find grade boundaries for 2019 and 2020 exams online for individual subjects?

A: These are available on the relevant exam board website.

Q: Could some examiners/markers be more generous than others?

A: Exam boards have quality assurance processes in place. You can find out more information on our blog post: Exam marking: how technology is improving the quality of marking.

Q: If a child requires a resit will the extra provisions available this summer still be in place for resits later in the year?

A: Advance information will be provided for the November 2022 series of exams in GCSE English language and mathematics. This will be different advance information to the summer series, and will be released in July 2022, unless further disruption justifies earlier release. For the GCSE mathematics exams in November 2022 the same formulae sheets will be provided as for summer exams.

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