Teaching, learning and assessment FAQs

We are reviewing all FAQs on a regular basis – adding new questions as they arise, updating answers to existing questions as information changes, and removing obsolete questions. 

If you have a question which is not covered here, and you are an ASCL Member, please email coronavirus@ascl.org.uk, and we will try to find an answer and share it here. 

These FAQs are provided for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal or professional advice. They represent ASCL’s views, but you rely on them at your own risk. For specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances, please contact your employer’s HR service or legal advisers.

There is a general expectation that candidates will be entered if they request it. It may be possible to work with other centres or venues to host the exams if they prove difficult logistically.  

The DfE has updated its usual guidance on writing statutory end of year reports to recognise the impact of the cancellation of this year’s summer exam series and primary assessments, and partial school closures.

Changes to requirements this year are as follows: 

  • Subject to the necessary legislation being made, the DfE intends to remove the requirement to report pupils’ attendance data for the 2019 to 2020 academic year. 
  • Following the cancellation of the 2019 to 2020 national curriculum assessments, it will not be possible to include outcomes of key stages 1 and 2 tests or teacher assessments in this year’s reports. It will also not be possible to include comparative information about the attainment of pupils of the same age in the school or nationally.
  • Calculated grades for GCSE and A level students should be reported to parents once they are available. 

The overall principle is that schools should take a proportionate approach in deciding what information to include within their pupils’ reports this year, recognising that, in many cases, it will not be possible for reports to cover the period of partial school closures, that staff may have limited availability to prepare and write reports, and that the information that they can access may also be limited. Reports must contain details of how parents can arrange a discussion about the report with their child’s teacher in a way that is appropriate to the current situation. 

The DfE has also written some additional specific guidance on reporting to parents of children at the end of key stages 1 and 2 this year. 


Phase 2 of the DfE scheme to provide laptops and tablets to disadvantaged children who are affected by disruption to face-to-face education was launched on 7 August 2020. The devices are for children and young people who are otherwise unable to access remote education.

Eligible children are:

  • pupils in Years 3 – 11
  • clinically extremely vulnerable children across all year groups who are shielding or self-isolating on official advice
  • children in all year groups who are unable to access remote education whilst attending a hospital school
Young people in Years 12 and 13 are not included in the scheme. These students may be eligible for support via the 16-19 bursary fund.

Institutions included are:
  • maintained schools and academy trusts
  • hospital schools
  • FE providers who have enrolled 14 to 16 year-olds
How to request devices
LAs and academy trusts will be asked to nominate a contact who will be responsible for placing orders. These details should be requested before the start of the autumn term.  Orders can be placed in the event of a local Covid-19 outbreak.

Once delivered, devices become fully owned by the institution who take responsibility for loaning devices to those that need them.

More information on this provision is available here.

The government has published new guidance for higher education providers on the support package available for universities and students. This is of direct relevance to members working in colleges, and will also be of interest to school-based members with Year 13 students. 

Key points include: 

  • There will be temporary and limited student number controls for the academic year 2020 to 2021, to ensure a fair, structured distribution of students across providers.
  • An additional 10,000 places will be made available to providers, on top of the controls, including. 5,000 for students studying nursing or allied health courses.
  • The Office for Students will consult on a new temporary condition of registration requiring English higher education providers to refrain from conduct which could have a material negative effect on the interests of students or the stability or integrity of the sector.
  • There will be an enhanced clearing process this year. Students will be able to access better and more personalised information, advice and guidance, and a new and easier-to-use means to change course/provider if, having reflected further and taking into account their awarded grades, they decide to change their firm choice. 
  • The Office for Students has published guidance for providers on the use of existing student premium funding to support students facing hardship.

Government has published guidance for early years providers about the temporary disapplications and modifications of certain elements of the EYFS statutory framework during Covid-19.

From 24 April 2020, the government temporarily disapplied and modified certain elements of the EYFS statutory framework for early years providers who remain open to vulnerable children and children of critical workers during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. 

The temporary changes include: 

  • providers are not required to meet existing learning and development requirements, but instead should use reasonable endeavours to meet them during the Covid-19 period
  • providers are not required to undertake the EYFS profile assessment in 2019/20 academic year, and accordingly local authorities are not required to collect or moderate data on this
  • providers are not required to undertake the two-year progress check during the coronavirus (Covid-19) period
  • exceptions are allowed to the qualifications that staff hold in order to be counted in ratio requirements
  • requirements around paediatric first aid (where children aged 2-5 years old are on-site). For those caring for children aged 2-5, providers must use their ‘best endeavours’ to ensure one person with a full PFA certificate is on-site at all times when children are present. If after using best endeavours they are still unable to secure a member of staff with PFA to be on site then they must carry out a written risk assessment and ensure that someone with a current First Aid at Work or emergency PFA certification is on site at all times children are on premises.
  • there is no longer the requirement for new entrants to hold PFA certification to count in ratios during this period.
  • new regulations allow temporary coronavirus (Covid-19) disapplications to re-apply if a provider is prevented from complying with the EYFS due to coronavirus (Covid-19) related restrictions or requirements. They also add disapplications around paediatric first aid to the transitional period, which originally only applied to disapplications around staffing levels
The term ‘best endeavours’ applies to the paediatric first aid requirements.  This is a higher level requirement than ‘reasonable endeavours’.  The guidance providers further information on this.


There is new guidance from Ofqual which we encourage members to study closely.

Ofqual statement on grading vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs)
Ofqual released a statement on grading VTQs, confirming that awarding organisations offering VTQs that had used an algorithmic approach similar to that used for GCSEs and A levels will "reconsider their awarding decisions and place greater weight on the most trusted evidence available". 

Ofqual information for students, including on appeals 
Ofqual has updated its information for students following the changes to how grades will be awarded. These documents include an updated version of the student guide to appeals, malpractice and maladministration complaints. Key points from this document are as follows: 

For GCSEs, AS, A levels, EPQs and AEAs

  • Students cannot challenge their school or college under the appeals process on the centre assessment grades it submitted or their rank order positions. 
  • Students cannot appeal because their mock result was higher than the grade they were awarded. 
  • Students can ask their school college to check whether it made an administrative error when submitting information to an exam board, and to ask the exam board to correct any mistakes in the information it provided. 
  • A school or college can appeal to an exam board on a student’s behalf if it believes the exam board made a mistake when it communicated their grades.
  • The deadline for appeals is 17 September. 
  • Students can raise concerns about malpractice or maladministration with exam boards. Such allegations will not be subject to the deadline for appeals. 
For VTQs 
  • As VTQs "come in a range of shapes and sizes", and fulfil a range of purposes, they are not all being treated in the same way and the grounds for appeal or processes for handling complaints will vary.
  • Schools and colleges can submit an appeal on a student’s behalf, or in some cases awarding organisations are accepting appeals directly from learners.


Ofqual has determined that a full series of GCSE, AS and A level exams will be offered by all boards in the autumn. JCQ have indicated that AS and A levels will run between Monday 5 October and Friday 23 October, and GCSEs will take place between Monday 2 November and Monday 23 November. This applies to England only.

The autumn series is available to those candidates in the summer series who did not or could not get the grades they were hoping for. Students should discuss this carefully with centres who can advise them of their best options.

Fees will be charged for candidates taking exams in the autumn series. These have recently been confirmed by the awarding organisations. The expectation is that refund from the summer series should offset the costs of entries into the autumn series. If this proves not to be the case, there is a mechanism to claim excess costs.

Reception Baseline Assessment has been postponed until September 2021. Early adopters can take part in October 2020. Schools must register before the end of summer term 2020. 

Further updates are expected shortly on EYFS early adopters, and on the engagement model.  

The grades assigned to pupils through the CAG process will not be included in performance tables. Nor should they be used in any other form of accountability, such as discussions around performance management.

Pupils entered for GCSEs in Year 10 in 2020 who have received a CAG will not have their grades included in any performance tables or publications.

It is not yet clear whether there will be any form of performance tables in 2021.

Ofqual have decided that Year 10 (and younger) pupils who were entered for exams will be allowed to take them. This reverses their earlier decision that the process would apply only to Year 11 pupils.

Ofqual has recently run a consultation suggesting some mitigatory adjustments to a range of exams in 2021 and a later start date for the exam season. ASCL hopes that further planning takes place to support students who have had, and may continue to experience, disruption to their learning, including the possibility of not being able to take the exams themselves.

The DfE released a communication about this on 4 June. 
In summary, this says that schools which are ready to do so are encouraged to begin delivering teaching from 1 September 2020, or whenever practicable within the first few weeks of the new school year. Those that are not ready, because of lost time, should aim to commence teaching the new content no later than the start of the summer term 2021.

Related Pages

September pupil level data checking exercise and provisional DfE performance indicators

  • Assessment
  • Accountability
  • Inspection
  • Ofsted
  • Key Stage 2
  • Attainment 8
  • Key Stage 4
  • GCSE
  • BTEC
  • Performance Tables
  • Progress 8

Updated guidance for FE and skills providers

  • Leadership
  • Post-16
  • FE
  • Health and safety
  • Government
  • Coronavirus