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8% of teachers see GCSE plan as fair

Source TES 23/2/21

Exclusive: Just 8% of teachers see GCSEs plan as fair
Only tiny minority of teachers think DfE/Ofqual GCSE and A-level plans will lead to fair grades for all, Tes poll finds

GCSEs and A levels 2021: Just 8 per cent of teachers see Ofqual and DfE plan as fair, a Tes poll shows
Just 8 per cent of teachers are confident that Ofqual and Department for Education plans for this year’s GCSEs and A levels will lead to fair results for all.

The findings from a Tes survey responded to by more than 6,500 teachers in England come in the week that the final arrangements, following the cancellation of this year’s exams, are due to be announced.

Ofqual and the DfE have proposed that students are graded through teacher assessment, with papers set by exam boards used as a basis for their judgements.

In full: GCSE and A level 2021 – Ofqual and DfE proposals

GCSEs 2021: Teachers to mark exam board questions

Exams: Ofqual’s letter on summer grades

But more than half (56 per cent) of teachers responding to the Tes survey said they lacked confidence, or had no confidence at all, in the grading plan producing fair results for students.

Confidence in Ofqual proposals – survey

In their survey responses, teachers have queried how the papers from exam boards would be different to exams, as well as the proposal that these papers could use questions from previous years’ exams.

GCSEs and A levels 2021: Teachers lack faith in DfE and Ofqual plans
“You cannot tell students that there aren’t any exams and then suggest that there are optional papers. That’s changing the goalposts and leaving students confused,” one teacher said.

Another said: “The proposal to hold mini exams for GCSE students seems to be another ill-thought disaster looming if given the go-ahead, as any experienced teacher knows.

“Some of the ideas seem naive – eg, the suggestion that the ‘test’… that might be set could include material from past papers. What do they think students will be using to practice?” another queried.

One teacher described the plans as “Vague. Ill-thought-out. Basically, it’s exams, isn’t it? But marked by teachers. And taken by under-taught, isolated children who are anxious”.

Some raised concerns over how the proposals would mitigate the learning loss experienced by students.

A teacher in a private school said: “I don’t see how there can be a level playing field between schools such as mine with almost full engagement with live taught lessons, 100 per cent device/broadband coverage and schools not able to deliver this/with lower coverage.”

And others said they lacked confidence because of the fiasco over GCSE and A-level grading in 2020.

“Given the absolute shambles that was last year, I struggle to be confident in them. The only bonus is the consultation period,” one teacher said.

“The fact that there was no contingency plan already in place in case exams needed to be cancelled after last year completely baffles me,” another said.

The DfE has been contacted for comment.

An Ofqual spokesperson said: “We recognise how difficult the past year has been for students and teachers due to disruption caused by the pandemic.

“We are working to put in place arrangements for awarding which are as fair as they can be in these difficult circumstances.

“Our joint consultation with the Department for Education generated more than 100,000 responses, and we are grateful to all who responded. We will announce the results of the consultation later this week.”