DfE Guidance - How GCSEs, AS & A levels will be awarded in summer 2020

Since the Secretary of State for Education announced that the 2020 exam series in England would be cancelled to help fight the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the DfE have worked at speed to develop a process which fairly recognises students’ work and makes sure they get their grades in time to progress. 

On 3 April 2020 the Department for Education have set out details about how GCSEs, AS and A Levels will be awarded this summer and published further guidance for teachers, students, parents and carers.

For this summer’s awards, schools and colleges are being asked to provide centre assessment grades for their students. These should be fair, objective and carefully considered judgements of the grades schools and colleges believe their students would have been most likely to achieve if they had sat their exams, and should take into account the full range of available evidence.

Exam boards will be contacting schools, colleges and other exam centres after Easter asking them to submit, by a deadline that will be no earlier than 29 May 2020, the following:

  1. a centre assessment grade for every student in each of their subjects: that is, the grade they would be most likely to have achieved if they had sat their exams and completed any non-exam assessment. Judgements should balance different sources of evidence such as:
  • classwork
  • bookwork
  • any participation in performances in subjects such as music, drama or PE
  • any non-exam assessment – whether or not complete
  • the results of any assignments or mock exams
  • previous examination results – for example, for any re-sitting students or those with relevant AS qualifications
  • any other records of student performance over the course of study
  • the rank order of students within each grade for each subject – for example, for all those students with a centre assessment grade of 5 in GCSE maths, a rank order where 1 is the most secure/highest attaining student, and so on. 

The DfE acknowleged that many private candidates (students who have been home-schooled, following distance-learning programmes or studying independently) are anxious to know how these arrangements might be applied to them. Heads of centre have been asked to provide centre assessment grades for private candidates registered to take exams with their centre and include them in the rank order where they are confident that they and their staff have seen sufficient evidence of the student’s achievement to make an objective judgement. 

To make sure that grades are as fair as possible across schools and colleges, exam boards will put all centre assessment grades through a process of standardisation using a model being developed with Ofqual. The DfE will consult on the principles of our model shortly, but we expect it will look at evidence such as the expected national outcomes for this year’s students, the prior attainment of students at each school and college (at cohort, not individual level), and the results of the school or college in recent years. 

Schools and colleges have been told that they must not share their centre assessment grades with students, parents or carers, under any circumstances, until after final results are issued. 

Students will also have the opportunity to sit exams at the earliest reasonable opportunity in the new academic year - we are working across the sector to plan for how and when these additional exams will take place. Many students will be taking other general and vocational or technical qualifications instead of or alongside GCSEs, AS and A levels. While this process does not apply to those qualifications, the same aims apply. We are working as quickly as possible to develop an approach and we will provide further information as soon as we can.