Archive 2016

December 2016

Download ASCL's Curriculum and Assessment Specialist Suzanne O'Farrell's update for December 2016

July 2016

Ofqual Update

Ofqual has published a key guide for schools and colleges on what they can expect from exam boards and what exam boards expect from them – see the guide here.

Ofqual has also published the response to its consultation on marking reviews and appeals. The key findings are as follows:

  • Reviewers, when deciding whether the first mark should stand, should consider whether the first marker made any administrative errors, properly applied the mark scheme and exercised their academic judgement appropriately.

  • Exam boards must provide the reasons for marking review decisions on request, but there will be no express requirement to do this within a specific timescale in 2016.

  • A level physics, rather than maths, will be included along with religious studies and geography in the pilot exercise to test the new ground of appeal following a review.

Ofqual has decided to defer a number of decisions to a later date. These include:

  • When the requirement for exam boards to make marked GCSE scripts available to centres should be introduced (in the meantime, exam boards may choose to make marked scripts available).

  • When the requirement for learners to be able to ask for the results of centre-marked assessments should be introduced.

  • When the automatic grade protection that currently applies following a review of moderation will be removed.

June 2016


EBacc consultation response: still pending.

Year 7 resit consultation: pending.

Ofsted Newsletter - June

The June Ofsted Inspectors Newsletter advises inspectors to explore with schools whether GCSE entry patterns have been made in the best interests of the pupils.  Inspectors will consider the breadth or narrowness of the curriculum offer, whether the exam entry policy is improving learning, provision and outcomes for pupils and whether governors have evaluated the policy and whether it represents value for money.

Impact of Qualification and Assessment Reform at KS4 and 5 

Monitoring of 2017 GCSE results

This will be crucial for everyone as the ‘good pass - 5’ is moving up by 3/4 of a grade, so that  just under 20% less students will receive  a government defined good pass. 

Variability in 2016 AS results at school level

The first reformed qualifications in 13 AS subjects will be sat by students this summer and entries to AS this year for reformed AS exams are down by 22%, and overall AS entry down by 14%.

As this is the first year of awarding these new qualifications, Ofqual expects that performance standards will be lower because students and their teachers will be less familiar with the new qualifications (exam boards will take account of that during awarding). This approach, known as comparable outcomes, will minimise any unfair disadvantage for the first cohort of students to sit a new qualification.

However, when qualifications do change, schools and colleges can typically see more variability in their results. Ofqual expects this summer's changes to AS levels will mean that individual school or college results will be more variable than in recent years.


Following Ofqual’s consultation on reviews of marking, the following key changes will take place:

(a) With effect from summer 2016, reviewers will be instructed to  change marks for errors, but maintain any mark which is ‘reasonable’, ie ‘legitimate and sound’ marks must not be changed.

If schools believe an error has been made in the marking of their assessments, they will be able to request that the mark is reviewed. Ofqual expects marking errors to be corrected when they are found, however they do not expect an already appropriate mark to be replaced with an alternative mark. This is likely to lead to fewer changes.

(b) Exam boards must train and monitor their reviewers of marking to make sure they are acting consistently.

c) With A and AS level appeals and reviews, exam boards will make AS and A level scripts available to those schools who want them ahead of the closing date for reviews and will be able to choose to do the same for GCSE scripts from 2016.

Pearson are offering this service for GCSE this summer at a cost to schools and this process is explained here 

A pilot exercise for appeals will also be run this summer in three A level subjects (maths, geography and religious studies).  

The grounds for appeal following a review will be extended to enable schools to appeal the student’s mark if the school believes a marking error was not corrected during the review. Ofqual will evaluate the impact of, and outcomes from the pilot and decide in 2017 whether, and in what form to roll this out more widely.

The full report can be found here

d) Ofqual’s consultation on the approach for awarding grades in reformed GCSEs from 2018 closed on 17 June.  

The consultation proposes that the proportion of grade 9s awarded in each subject will vary depending on the overall proportion of grades 7 and above awarded within the subject. Click here to read the full document. 

The table provides example figures from Ofqual's consultation document: 


No of A*

No of 9s


No of A*

No of 9s

Eng Lang



Eng Lit
























Bus St






Art & Des










Modern Foreign Languages

Ofqual is conducting research this year into the possible effect of native speakers on GCSE and A/L grades.

The government has commissioned a group to review the available evidence for effective foreign language pedagogy in secondary schools with a view to providing schools across the country with thought provoking, practical advice to improve their own teaching. The terms of reference can be accessed here 

Phase 3 of qualification reforms 
The accreditation process - began on 19 May 2016 and Ofqual is hoping to shorten the 40 day process so that schools do not experience the delays experienced this year.

National Reference Test 
This appears to have gone well but will not realistically have any meaningful impact till 2020.

Exam entry data for 2016

Y11 EBacc – French and German entries down again (both by 8%), Spanish up 3%.  There were slight increases in biology, chemistry, physics, geography and history.

IGCSE English increases again by 2% this year to 191,000 

GCSE computing has increased by 87% from 2015

Variability in results at school level (from Ofqual)

While nationally results may remain steady, schools and colleges can see variability in their results year to year, even when qualifications do not change. 


Funding for English and maths post-16

The government intends to align the 16 to 19 maths and English funding condition with the new GCSE good pass in maths and English. A phased approach will be taken. For students studying in academic years 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019, the funding condition will be based on the new GCSE grade 4. Beyond this, the government intends to revise the funding condition to reflect the new GCSE good pass (grade 5). The specific date from which this will take effect will be confirmed closer to the time. Guidance can be found here 

The DFE will be updating their funding guidance to cover the teaching of legacy GCSE specifications in maths and English from November 2016 to summer 2017.

The same rules apply for IGCSEs and equivalent level 1 and level 2 certificates counting towards the EBacc measure.

This will mean that IGCSE and equivalent level 1 and level 2 re-sits throughout the 2016/17 academic year will also be approved for teaching under the 16-19 maths and English condition of funding, and resulting achievements will count towards the new progress measure.

Updated funding guidance can be found here