Exams 2020: grading

Exams 2020: grading

As you will all know by now, the government has published grading details for the summer exams 2020, which have been cancelled in the fight against coronavirus.

The top line summary is that GCSE and A Level students will have their grades awarded by a combination of teacher assessment, class ranking and the past performance of their schools.

Coverage of Ofqual’s (the department that regulates qualifications) published guidance has focused significantly on teacher judgement. Some have voiced concerns over the fairness of this approach.

So – we thought we would provide a short summary of exactly what is being asked of your teachers.

Under Ofqual’s system, schools have been asked to recommend a grade for pupils in each subject. Teachers will then “rank order” candidates within each grade, from the pupil the school is most confident about receiving that grade to the least. The assessments will be kept confidential and not shared with individual students.

In practice, what does this mean for exams 2020?

First of all, we are using a variety of sources of evidence to provide our individual judgements, including:

  • classwork
  • bookwork
  • any participation in performances in subjects such as music, drama or PE
  • any non-exam assessment – whether or not complete
  • the results of any assignments or mock exams
  • previous examination results – for example, for any re-sitting students or those with relevant AS qualifications
  • any other records of student performance over the course of study

Secondly, we are using a number of data-based comparative factors:

  • The national picture for each subject and the 5+, 7+, A*-A, A*-B percentages
  • For GCSE – we are considering Fischer Family Trust (FFT) aspiration grades set previously, including benchmarking based on the performance of similar students in the top 20% (FFT20) and 5% (FFT5) of schools
  • For A Level – we are using each student’s Minimum Expected Grades (MEG), as well as ALPS scores over the last few years (this is to support a proper prediction of progress). You’ll remember that our Sixth Form is currently in the 10% of providers nationally, based on student’s ALPS scores.

The process is extremely rigorous, and is being overseen at a Senior Leadership Team level to ensure consistency across all subjects.

Your teachers are working incredibly hard in background right now to provide you with the most fair, data-driven grades. These will best reflect your hard work and dedication in school.


The Department for Education has said that schools should submit their assessments to the exam boards from 29 May. They are expected to publish the final grades on or before the usual mid-August results season.

The examination grades will look the same as usual, and any student that feels that they have not received the grade that best reflects their potential will be given the opportunity to resit, either in the Autumn term or in Summer 2021.

In the meantime, our Independent Careers Advisor Wendy Watson has written a blog on some of the things that students can do outside of exams to prepare themselves for university, or to bolster their personal statement. Keep positive – we are all in this together!