Ofqual update – January 2016

13 January 2016

Ofqual has launched an online consultation about changing the review and appeal systems used by exam boards in England for addressing concerns about a candidate’s GCSE, AS or A level marks. We would urge members to respond to the consultation. The deadline for responses is 11 March.

Resits of legacy GCSEs and A levels
Current rules mean that exam boards will no longer be able to award the unreformed or ‘legacy’ qualifications in the subjects where a reformed version of the qualification has been introduced beyond August 2016. To make sure students are not disadvantaged because of these changes, Ofqual is proposing that students taking legacy AS and A levels should have the opportunity to resit these qualifications, regardless of the subject and exam board in the summer of 2017.

In December, Ofqual launched a consultation about resits of legacy GCSEs and A levels. We would urge members to respond to the consultation and have their say. The consultation can be found online here and the deadline for responses is 2 February.

ASCL will also be responding to the consultation and we are keen to hear your views before we put our response together – please email suzanne.ofarrell@ascl.org.uk by Friday 22 January.

The main points in the consultation are:

  • GCSEs
    Ofqual is proposing that students taking GCSEs in English, English language and mathematics (including linked pair maths GCSEs – ‘applications of mathematics’ and ‘methods in mathematics’) in summer 2016, will have a resit opportunity in November 2016. We are also seeking views on whether these students should also have a further resit opportunity in May/June 2017. If a student resits any of these qualifications, then – as now – they will need to resit all the exams for that qualification.

    Students will be able to carry forward the results of the speaking and listening controlled assessment in GCSE English and GCSE English language (including between the two subjects when resitting with the same exam board).

    There will be no resit opportunities in other GCSE subjects that are subject to reform. For GCSEs in English literature, the final exams in the legacy qualifications will be in summer 2016. For GCSE subjects that are being replaced in the second phase of reforms, the final exams will be in summer 2017. For all remaining legacy GCSEs, the final exams will be in summer.

  • AS/A level
    Students taking AS and A levels in the last scheduled sitting should have the opportunity to resit these qualifications after the final scheduled award, regardless of the subject and exam board.

In addition, the DfE has updated timings for the withdrawal of legacy GCSEs and A Levels.

Awarding A* in reformed A levels
In the first awards of reformed A levels, exam boards will use statistical predictions to make sure that standards at A* are maintained between the old and new qualifications. As a result, Ofqual expects the percentage of students achieving A* in a reformed A level subject to be similar to the current position, provided the cohort remains similar.

Consequently, exam boards will set the A* boundary to meet the statistical predictions at the overall subject level and students who achieve enough marks will achieve the A* grade (in the same way as they do for any other grade). Unlike the current process, there will be no requirement to score above a certain level in each component.

For more information on curriculum and assessment reform, you may be interesting in attending the ASCL PD course on Curriculum: Leading Curriculum Change on 28 June in Manchester. ASCL Curriculum and Assessment Specialist Suzanne O’Farrell is leading the course. In addition, places are now available on our Leadership of Assessment Conference on Tuesday 22 March in London.