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Ofqual consultation on the additional exam series this autumn - AoC responds

08 June 2020

The government has committed to offering an additional exam series this autumn for students unable to receive a calculated grade and others who would like the opportunity to improve their grade. The proposed arrangements includes proposals to require exam boards to offer exams in all subjects, and to offer the full suite of papers as are normally offered in other summer exam series. It envisages that AS and A level exams should take place in October and GCSE exams in November and that, with the exception of art and design, grades awarded in the autumn should be based only on students’ performance in their exams, with no non-exam assessments. While the detailed proposals in the consultation are sensible, AoC was not convinced of the educational case for this additional series and is concerned that any large scale take-up of could lead to significant disruption to college provision next term. An exam series with very large numbers of entries could be costly and disruptive in terms of staff time, lost teaching time, accommodation, access arrangements and support for students. Where students have progressed as they expected, colleges may want to advise them to be cautious about committing themselves to autumn exams which could distract from their current studies. AoC also recommended that the additional cost of an autumn series should not be borne by those centres whose students choose not to use it. Chief Executive, David Hughes commented: “The cancellation of this summer’s exams will have caused students a lot of concern. The great majority of GCSE, A Level and Applied General candidates will be awarded Centre Assessed Grades and we know that colleges will be flexible and supportive around progression requirements. Once they get their results, some students may feel that their Centre Assessed Grade does not reflect what they could have achieved and colleges will want to advise them carefully about their best course of action. Our concern is that after all the disruption they have been through, students will want to focus on moving forward next term and working towards success on their 2020/21 course. For those students who have progressed as planned, the best advice will be to use the autumn series very sparingly if at all.” The full AoC response can be accessed here.