On March 20th 2020 the Government announced that all exams would be cancelled this summer and students in schools would be awarded grades. To say it's been a difficult time for home educators is a bit of an understatement. Few home educators were able to meet the criteria for grading. For those who did there were often extra costs and stresses.
Going forward what to do -
- Keep up to date with information. We'll do our best to keep this page up to date but follow the Facebook group we have some very knowledgeable members.
- Be aware of the differences between GCSEs and IGCSEs so you can sift through the relevant information. IGCSEs are not regulated by Ofqual so do not have to follow the same rules. Edexcel has usually treated their IGCSEs the same but as they have a different focus (international market) there is no guarantee that they will in future. Cambridge (CAIE) already differ on a number of points.
- The exam centre was the crucial point in being able to grade this summer. A course provider even if they provided grades/evidence for home educators this year was only able to help if the centre was willing to work with them. Do not sign up with a provider solely in the hope of a grade without engaging with your exam centre first. There is a list of centres here who supported home educators this year.
Grading in Summer 2020 Edit
Results Days Edit
- Cambridge IGCSE and A Levels - 11th August
- A Levels - 13th August
- GCSEs and Edexcel IGCSEs - 20th August
Centre Assessment Grades (CAGs) Edit
What are CAGs? These are the way grades have been awarded for summer 2020 exams. The term 'predicted grades' is often used but that is not strictly true. So how will the grade be worked out for those who were able to apply.
- Tutors/DLPs put forward a package of evidence to the exam centre. A predicted grade would have only been one part, there would be invigilated mocks and other evidence of work.
- The Centre would have reviewed the evidence, possibly adjusted the grade and then ranked alongside other candidates. This was submitted to the exam board. There is information here that explains Ofqual guidelines.
- The exam boards then applied 'norm referencing' or standardisation processes. This will change the CAG up or down based on statistical information about national performance (so roughly the same % get the same grades each year- this is not new - as it is how exam boards set grade boundaries) and on centre past statistics. There is evidence that submitted grades were higher than would have been expected, an average of about 12% for A Level, 9% for GCSE and half a grade for CAIE so standardisation has always been an important part. The problems for private candidates are they mostly are completely "unrelated" education wise to previous candidates at the same centre and/or were using specialist centres which don't have a 'typical' cohort. Plus students going for grades this year may be less representative of the usual spread of private candidates.
On Monday 17th August the Government announced that students would get the CAG awarded or the standardised grade - whichever was higher. CAIE and Edexcel IGCSE followed. Previously released CAIE grades were withdrawn and reissued. The decision followed pressure due to the number of CAGs that had been downgraded
Why wasn't my CAG what my tutor predicted? Edit
The centre had to have absolute confidence in the grade it put forward or it risked all grades at the centre.
Things a centre may have used to determine CAG - not exhaustive!
Tutor's grade. Mock result. Where the mock came from - locked papers or SAMs with answers on line? Was any of the work verified as the student's (invigilated mock for example). If the mocks/evidence was tutor generated how closely did it tally with paper styles, did it cover balance of qs or just short answers. Qualifications of tutors. Interviews with students to verify work. The evidence will have been combed over.
They also had to standardise, so compare one tutors grade x with another's. Loads of cross-marking, discussion, justifying between parties within a centre.
Also worth considering that from April guidelines were that tutors shouldn't give marks or discuss grades with candidates. So take into consideration when and context of discussions about grades. What was said in Feb/March may not be what tutor submitted.
The appeals procedures for this year are different to normal and vary between JCQ boards and CAIE.
The autumn exam series are seen as an important part of the appeals process. If you don't agree - sit an exam, appears to be the line.
JCQ boards (Edexcel, AQA, OCR) Edit
Individuals cannot challenge your school or college under the appeals process on the centre assessment grade(s) it submitted.
If you believe there may have been an admin error you can ask the centre to review and appeal.
If you believe there was malpractice there is scope to challenge but do read the above about why your CAG may differ from predicted grades/course marks from your tutor.
Some background into the reasons behind the appeals process.
Cambridge (CAIE) Edit
Basically these are centre challenges, not individual, and will affect all in the centre's entry for that subject- so a challenge could affect all grades- by going up or down.
Autumn/Winter Exams 2020/21 Edit
GCSEs and A Levels Edit
In England there is a full timetable of GCSE examinations which start on Monday 2 November and finish on Monday 23 November. A Levels start on Monday 5 October and finish on Friday 23 October.
For GCSEs and A Levels the student had to have been entered for the exam in the June series by March 31st in order to be eligible for the Autumn series. They are not open to new entries just resits and deferrals.
In Wales only a small number of core subjects will be available in the Autumn - Update
Edexcel International GCSE Edit
Edexcel are offering a full timetable of IGCSEs in November 2020. - Edexcel IGCSE November 2020 Timetable (there appears to be one timetable for International and UK centres, so subjects not usually available in the UK are listed)
These arrangements are available to all students using international qualifications, including new entries, deferrals and students wanting to re-sit from any previous exam series, including the May and June 2020 exam series and are subject to demand. This is an additional arrangement for 2020 only.
Edexcel's usual January sitting is much reduced in 2021 offering just Mathematics A, Mathematics B, Physics, Chemistry and Biology - note NO ENGLISH LANG. Edexcel IGCSE January 2021 Timetable
Cambridge IGCSE and A Levels (CAIE) Edit
The Cambridge Autumn series is a slightly expanded version of their normal Autumn series and is available to new entries.
Update on Nov series published 17th July - here
Summer 2021 Edit
Cambridge is currently discussing possible changes to their IGCSEs for summer 2021, announcement due 3rd Sept.
There has been a consultation for GCSEs and A Levels in summer 2021 - results of the consultation
As yet no decision has been reached on whether to delay the exam season.
Minor changes have been announced for some GCSEs - English Lit, History and MFLs most likely to affect home educators but do check the results for all. Keep an eye on the specification pages on the exam board websites for more details.
Edexcel have also been consulting on changes to their IGCSEs, no confirmation of any changes yet.