Teacher Assessed Grades 2021
Information on GCSE, A level and vocational grades: summer 2021
LAST UPDATED: 11 May 2021
For the second academic year running external examinations have been cancelled, leaving many of the normal steps for students now looking very different. Here we have tried to pull together information on everything regarding grades, results and support that you might need at this stage. However, government guidance is evolving and some specifics are still not known so this page will be regularly updated.
This year’s process for awarding Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) is completely different from the Centre Assessed Grading (CAG) process used in summer 2020, with the only real similarity being a lack of externally set exams. TAGs will be determined by teachers making an objective judgement as to the standard a student is performing at now and not their potential.
Students will only be assessed on what they have been taught, while ensuring sufficient coverage of the curriculum to enable progression to next steps. Teachers will use the time remaining in the school year to balance continued teaching and preparation with assessments.
Teachers will use a range of evidence with no one piece of evidence determining the overall grade. At Burford School, we will take the majority of our evidence from assessments completed during Term 5 as these should be most representative of the standard students are currently working at. In addition, fully and partially completed NEAs (coursework) will also be used.
We will be providing students and parents with a subject-by-subject list of the evidence being used to determine the overall grades once this is available. Please remember that we are bound by strict confidentiality and will not be able to share or give an indication of the overall grade awarded in any subject before results day. To do so would be malpractice.
The deadline for schools to submit grades to the exam boards is Friday 18 June. This means that all assessments are scheduled completed by the end of May to ensure we have enough time to standardise, mark, moderate and quality assure all the evidence. This also means that the last day in school for Year 11 and Year 13 students is Friday 28 May. Between Friday 28 May and Friday 25 June students will be provided with a package of self-directed work and activities to complete in preparation for their next steps. More detail on this has been provided separately by Mr Jouny, Deputy Headteacher.
Below are a series of documents, produced by Ofqual, the DfE, and the JCQ to help explain the process to students and parents:
- JCQ Guidance for students, parents and guardians: Summer 2021
- Ofqual How qualifications will be awarded in 2021
- Ofqual Feeling worried about grades this year is understandable. Here are some things that might help…
- Student Guide to Awarding: Summer 2020
Here is a collection of letters sent to parents regarding the process:
- 5 March 2021 Letter
- 15 March 2021 Year 11 Letter
- 15 March 2021 Year 13 Letter
- 19 March 2021 Year 11 Revision List Letter
- 8 April 2021 Year 11 Letter
- 8 April 2021 Year 13 Letter
- Year 13 – Evidence List Letter & Year 13 – Evidence List
- Year 11 – Evidence List Letter & Year 11 – Evidence List
The government has learnt lessons from last year and had longer to prepare so we believe that this is the fairest possible approach available under the difficult circumstances. It is a rigorous process which means that grades awarded this year are as valid as in any other year. Most importantly, this process will still allow pupils to progress to the next stage of their lives in the normal way.
Our centre policy has now been approved by the JCQ and copy can be found here:
- A-level and Level 3 Qualifications: Tuesday 10 August
- GCSE and Level 2 Qualifications: Thursday 12 August
Students will have a statement of grades sent to their school email accounts for 8.00am on results day. A paper statement of results will also be posted to the student’s home address, but that will arrive in the days following.
If your son/daughter needs the password to their school email account to be reset then please email our Network Manager, Mr Wilsdon (email@example.com), including the student’s full name and form group.
We will continue to provide post-results support for those students who need further support or advice. We ask that, if you would like to discuss next steps with either our Head of Sixth Form or Careers Advisor, you contact reception on 01993 823303 and leave brief details with our office staff. The relevant person will then call you back as soon as they become available. Similarly, if you have any questions about your results or would like to speak to a member of staff, please do the same.
For Year 13 students wishing to use the UCAS Clearing service, please go directly to their website (https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/results-confirmation-and-clearing/what-clearing) and contact the school if you would like to speak to someone for advice.
For Year 11 students, we will also provide the option of face-to-face meetings with Ms Denny, Head of Sixth Form, if entry to the Sixth Form needs to be discussed. Please do phone Reception to arrange a time if this is required. We would also request that any questions related to changing A-level choices be done via email to Ms Denny (firstname.lastname@example.org), as these are not urgent and changes can still be made on return in September.
Before results day we will be circulating documents to help with the most common questions, but if you would still like more information then we will be setting up a dedicated email account (email@example.com) which will go live on Monday 9 August.
Every student has the right to appeal their grade(s) if they wish. The government is currently consulting on the specifics of the appeals process, but it will follow these broad steps:
- A student who is unhappy with a grade should contact the exams office (firstname.lastname@example.org) by email. The email should include the grade they wish to appeal and the reason for the appeal. There is a priority appeals window for students who need the result of an appeal urgently to be accepted into university, college, an apprenticeship or a job. The deadline for priority appeals to be submitted to the school is Monday 16 August.
- The school will check that no administrative or procedural error has taken place.
- If the school identifies an error, it will submit a revised grade to the exam board along with its rationale for the change. This will be considered by the exam board and if they agree with the change a new grade will be issued.
- If the school does not feel an error has been made the school will contact the student and inform them of this.
- If the student wishes they can then ask the school to appeal to the exam board on their behalf. The school will submit the students appeal along with the evidence on which they made their judgement to the exam board. The exam board will then consider if a change to the grade is supported based on the evidence submitted and inform the student and the school of its findings.
Please be aware that there is no grade protection when appealing to the exam boards which means that grades can go down as well as up as a result. This section will be updated to reflect changes in government guidance as they happen.
There will be an opportunity for students who are not satisfied with their grades to sit exams in the autumn term.
Like last year, an autumn series of exams will be available for students who would like an opportunity to improve on their teacher assessed grades. The government published the results of their consultation today (details available here). In summary:
- A-level exams (and any AS exams) to be held in October.
- GCSE exams to be held in November and December.
- Exams will be in the normal format with no adaptations.
- Grades will be determined by performance in exams only. NEAs will not be included except for in Art and Design qualifications.
- Students will keep the higher of their Teacher Assessed Grade and the results of the autumn exam series.
We will make further details available as they are published.
Mr D Pullin – AHT: Curriculum & Standards
11 May 2021
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How will grades be awarded this summer?
Grades for GCSEs, A-levels, and most other qualifications will be based on a process involving teacher assessment against national standards, internal quality assurance, and external quality assurance by the exam boards. The national process defined by the Department for Education and the exams’ regulator, Ofqual is as follows:
- Teachers will assess students against a national standard, which will be defined by the exam boards before the Easter break.
- Departments will submit grades which will be quality assured by the school/college. This internal quality assurance process will have to be signed off by the exam board to ensure it is rigorous and in line with national standards.
- Our school results will be quality assured externally by the exam boards, which may include random sampling of our school’s evidence.
- If the exam boards are confident in our submitted results, then the exam boards will award students their final grades.
- If students do not think their results are accurate, they will have the right to appeal.
So, do teachers award the grade?
Simply: no. The grade students achieve will start with their teacher’s assessment of their performance across a range of evidence. This is against a nationally-defined standard, not the teacher’s own opinion. This assessment is then subject to both internal and external quality assurance before the final grade is awarded by the exam body as usual.
Does this mean grades are decided by an algorithm?
No, unlike last year, students’ grades will not be changed by a formula. The internal and external quality assurance measures will all be done by humans, not an algorithm. There is no limit on the achievement of students, providing they have evidence that they are working at that grade.
What about loss of learning/impact of Covid?
This year, teachers will only assess students on content they have been taught – because of the continued disruption of the pandemic. This means students will not be disadvantaged if they individually, their whole class or whole year group have been unable to complete their full course. However, grades can only be submitted on the basis of the evidence we have of students’ performance, even if that evidence covers less of the course than usual.
Will grades be different between different schools and colleges?
No, the standard against which teachers will be assessing students is set nationally by the exam boards. This is the standard that will be used during external quality assurance and appeals to ensure consistency and fairness across the system.
Will work completed before now be used as evidence?
The guidance states that teachers are able to draw on a range of assessment evidence from across a student’s study of the course. However, there are a number of reasons why we will be focusing on evidence from term 5, including:
- The details in the guidance, particularly around the quality assurance we will be subject to, rules out the use of much of the work done to date. For example, we cannot be confident that work completed at home has been done without additional support, so if counted it could be unfair on other students.
- We must evidence the grade we are submitting, not evidence students being on course for that grade. Evidence from earlier in the course is likely to be of a lower grade as students were still progressing, so this does not aid the student. For example, the assessment week grades were not graded against a final standard, but instead as a projection so students could see how they were working relative to their progress through the course. That means that a grade 6 in assessment week could not actually be used as evidence for a grade 6 now. This was explained in the covering letter for Review 1 at the time.
- We are required to use consistent sources of evidence wherever possible, so there are ethical concerns around using prior evidence that students did not know would count towards a final grade. For every student that would like to use it, there are others who would be unhappy with the decision. Many students have faced difficulties over the past year due to Covid and lockdown so this would be disadvantaging them.
- We are comfortable that our arrangements give us ample time to collect the evidence required for students in a controlled and structured way. We want all our students to do as well as they possibly can so we have no reason to design a system that would not allow that.
Any work done towards NEAs/coursework that was always intended to count towards the final grade will be used as evidence.
Can students and parents make the case for why a student should get a higher grade?
Our teachers are already using their professional expertise to assess students on the content they have been taught. Teachers are unable to submit higher grades for students unless they have the evidence that they are consistently working at this level. If teachers submit higher grades without evidence they are committing exam malpractice.
If students or parents are found to be putting teachers or leaders under undue pressure to increase grades, then in serious cases this matter could be referred to the exam boards and an investigation into malpractice may ensue. This may result in the student’s certificate being removed entirely if malpractice is deemed to have taken place.
Can students discuss their grades with teachers?
Teachers will be able to discuss which evidence they are using to inform their judgement with students. However, we are not allowed to disclose their final submitted grade we give to the exam board. Students should not attempt to second-guess the grade submitted, as teachers will be using a range of evidence to inform their final judgement.
What if a student is not happy with their grades on results day?
All students have the right to appeal their grade. The first stage is for the school to check for administrative errors and confirm that that grade awarded is the same as the grade submitted. The second stage is for the student’s evidence to be sent to the exam board for them to verify whether grade given was a reasonable exercise in academic judgement. If the exam board finds that it was not then they will change the grade. Grades can be moved down as well as up during the appeal process. This is a very similar process to requesting an exam remark in a normal year.
What should students do to improve their grades?
The best thing students can do is to continue to attend classes, learn, act on feedback from their teachers and revise. Their grade will be based on their performance, and so their outcomes are ultimately in their hands.