ASCL comment on EPI exam grading proposals

29/01/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the Education Policy Institute’s proposals on exams and grading in 2021.
 
Commenting on the Education Policy Institute’s proposals on exams and grading in 2021, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“We agree with the EPI’s conclusion that the broad plan being put forward by the government is the ‘least bad’ option for grading students in lieu of exams, although all of this could and should have been sorted much earlier as a ready-to-go contingency system.
 
“However, we are where we are. The fact is there is no perfect solution given the scale of disruption to learning caused by the pandemic, the difficulty of trying to mitigate the widely different extent to which learners have been affected, and the need to make assessment as consistent as possible in such turbulent circumstances.
 
“Within this broad plan there are a number of detailed questions which need to be resolved and we’ll be submitting our response on Friday having consulted with members. There is a difficult balance to be struck between giving the maximum amount of flexibility in how students are assessed to reflect differential learning loss, while also providing system-wide consistency. Our view is that the first of those considerations is the most important, particularly in light of the further disruption caused by the extended lockdown, and our response will be shaped on that basis.
 
“We are interested in the EPI’s idea of the right to repeat a year for students who have experienced extreme learning loss. In principle, this is worth consideration, but in practical terms it would need to be confined to small numbers or otherwise it would create a logjam in the system which would leave schools with more pupils than they could accommodate.”