Horsham students to feel ‘immense relief’ as plans set out for exam grading

A Horsham headteacher has said students will feel ‘immense relief’ after plans on how to grade exams were set out.

Jules White, head at Tanbridge House, said after ‘months of uncertainty’ students and families now know how their grades will be awarded.

He said: “They will receive results that realistically reflect their ability and hard work. The trust that the DfE and Ofqual have placed in the profession is strongly welcomed.

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“We will need clear procedures for external scrutiny of individual school submissions to avoid grade inflation and to build confidence in the system overall.

Jules White

“Equally schools must be supported by an appeals process that does not see headteachers overwhelmed by appeals in August.”

Last month the Government set out how exam results will be awarded after tests were cancelled. Chief regulator Simon Lebus said: “For GCSEs, AS and A levels, teachers will assess the standard at which you are performing based only on what you have been taught so that your school or college can determine your grade.

“Teachers’ judgements should be based on a range of evidence relating to the subject content that your teachers have delivered, either in the classroom or via remote learning.

“Teachers will be able to use evidence about your performance gathered throughout your course to inform their judgement. This might include work that you have already completed, mock exam results, homework or in-class tests. Your teachers may also use questions from exam boards, largely based on past papers, to help assess you, but this won’t be compulsory.”

Mr White said he hoped trusting teachers would pave the way for a new approach to external assessments which have become too narrow in scope and a cause of ‘huge unnecessary stress’.

He added: “Exams are important and necessary but there are far too many at present and we need a reformed accountability system that prepares young people much better for working life.”

The Department for Education said exams are the fairest and most accurate way to measure pupils’ attainment, and GCSEs ensure pupils have a sound knowledge base that prepares them for further study or employment.

There are no current plans to reform GCSEs. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Young people have shown incredible resilience over the last year, continuing with their learning amidst unprecedented challenges while the country battles with this pandemic. Those efforts deserve to be fairly rewarded.

“That’s why we are providing the fairest possible system for those pupils, asking those who know them best – their teachers – to determine their grades, with our sole aim to make sure all young people can progress to the next stage of their education or career.

“I also recognise many students need their vocational and technical qualifications to enter into work. Exams and practical assessments in these courses are essential for the students to progress to the next stage, and so it’s right that these continue.”