Parent poll on exams 2021 - the results

16/12/20

Thank you to every one of the 1,189 parents in England who took the time to complete our short poll on the Department for Education's arrangements for public exams in 2021. We appreciate every parent, school, parent group and partner organisations who shared the survey on social media, which enabled us to reach a wide sample.

Exams 2021: what parents said

Confidence

We asked, “To what extent are you confident that the new 2021 public exam (GCCEs, AS Levels & A Levels) arrangements will help your child achieve a fair grade that reflects their ability?” We found:

  • Less than a quarter (22%) of parents are confident that the new arrangements for public exams (GCCEs, AS Level and A Level) for 2021 will help their child achieve a fair grade that reflects their ability. 
  • Over two thirds of parents are either not very confident (30%) or not at all confident (38%) that the new arrangements for public exams for 2021 will help their child achieve a fair grade that reflects their ability.
  • Three quarters (76%) of Y11 parents are not confident the new arrangements will help their child achieve a fair grade that reflects their ability.
  • Just under three quarters (72%) of Y13 parents are not confident the new arrangements will help their child achieve a fair grade that reflects their ability.

Clarity 

We asked, “To what extent do you agree or disagree that the new arrangements provide you with the clarity and certainty needed to support your child in preparing for their 2021 public exams (GCCEs, AS Levels & A Levels)?” We found:

  • A fifth (19%) of parents agree that the new arrangements provide them with the clarity and certainty needed to support their child to prepare for their public exams in 2021.
  • Over half of parents either strongly disagree (35%) or tend to disagree (23%) that the new arrangements provide them with the clarity and certainty needed to support their child to prepare for their public exams in 2021.
  • Under two thirds (63%) of Y11 parents don’t feel that the new arrangements offer the clarity and certainty needed to support their child to prepare for their exams in summer 2021.
  • Under two thirds (61%) of Y13 parents don’t feel that the new arrangements offer the clarity and certainty needed to support their child to prepare for their exams in summer 2021.

Fairness

We asked, "To what extent do you agree or disagree that the new arrangements will make the 2021 public exams (GCCEs, AS Levels & A Levels) as fair as possible for all students?" We found:

  • Less than one in five parents (19%) agree that the new arrangements will make the 2021 public exams as fair as possible for all students.  Two thirds of parents disagree (24% tend to disagree, 43% strongly disagree).
  • Only 17% of Y11 parents and 20% of Y13 parents agree that the new arrangements will make the 2021 public exams as fair as possible for all students.

Preferred options

When asked what other options, if any, should to be considered to make GCCEs, AS Levels and A Levels in 2021 as fair as possible for all students, we found:

  • The most popular answer selected by 49% of parents was no exams - with results awarded on teacher assessments only. This option was especially popular with parents of children in exam cohorts. 53% of Y11 parents and 52% of Y13 parents would like the option of no exams to be considered.
  • 47% selected teacher assessments alongside exams
  • 40% selected a process that reflects the amount of missed learning
  • 18% selected some regional adjustment of grades to reflect varying experiences.
  • Only 5% of parents are happy that the measures announced are adequate and no other options need to be considered.

Conclusion 

From the responses given, it is clear that there remains a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for parents about the arrangements for exams 2021, which only increases where they are parents of children in exam cohorts.

Sharing parent voice with policymakers

It's important to us that we don't just ask parents for their views, but we go the next step and share what you tell us with policymakers. We have shared a short report compiled from the survey data with the Department for Education as well as with other leading education stakeholders. Exams regulator Ofqual is currently consulting on the arrangements for exams in England next summer, and we will respond, sharing our findings with them too. 

Parents interested in further reading can read or download the report:

Parents’ Poll: Public Exams 2021 - New Arrangements.

Methodology

Parentkind ran a short online survey for parents of secondary school children, which was promoted via social media. It was active between 8.30am on 3rd December and 9.30am on 15th December 2020. 1,189 parents completed the survey. Please note percentages cited above may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Most parents responding had pupils in exam cohorts, with 57% indicating they have a child in Year 11 and another 29% a child in Year 13. 

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