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NI schools set to offer GCSE and A Level students ‘fair and objective’ grades

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An exams regulator has stated schools across the UK should offer GCSE and A Level students “fair” and “objective” final grades.

Ofqual has outlined plans for candidates due to sit their exams this summer, only for them to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The regulator stated that grades should be “fair, objective and carefully considered judgements of the grades schools and colleges believe their students would have been most likely to achieve if they had sat their exams”.

Sally Collier, Chief Regulator of Ofqual, said: “School or college based assessment already has an important role in many GCSEs, AS and A levels and in extraordinary circumstances such as these, schools and colleges are best placed to judge the likely performance of their students at the end of the course.

“We have worked closely with the teaching profession to ensure that what we are asking is both appropriate and manageable, so that everyone can have confidence in the approach. I would like to take this opportunity to thank teachers and school leaders for making this process work for students during these very challenging times.

“We have published a message to students to reassure them that we, and exam boards, will do everything we can to make sure that, as far as possible, grades are fair and that they are not disadvantaged in their progress to sixth form, college, university, apprenticeships, training or work because of these unprecedented conditions.”

She added: “To make sure that grades are as fair as possible across schools and colleges, exam boards will put all centre assessment grades through a process of standardisation using a model being developed with Ofqual.

“We will consult on the principles of our model shortly, but we expect it will look at evidence such as the expected national outcomes for this year’s students, the prior attainment of students at each school and college, and the results of the school or college in recent years.

“It will not change the rank order of students within each centre; nor will it assume that the distribution of grades in each subject or centre should be the same.

“The process will also recognise the past performance of schools and colleges. However, if grading judgements in some schools and colleges appear to be more severe or generous than others, exam boards will adjust the grades of some or all of those students upwards or downwards accordingly.”

NI board CCEA said they are finalising options for their GCSE and GCE qualifications.

A statement from CCEA read: “Today’s announcement by Ofqual outlines the arrangements for awarding in England and for those candidates in Northern Ireland taking their qualifications with other awarding organisations (AQA, Eduqas, OCR and Pearson).

“The vast majority of candidates in Northern Ireland take their GCSE and A level qualifications with CCEA. CCEA has made considerable progress in finalising the options for GCSE and GCE qualifications. These options will then be carefully considered by the Minister of Education.”

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