Ofqual consultation on proposed changes to 2021 exams

Ofqual has published a consultation on proposed changes for the 2021 exam season, covering a range of GCSE, AS and A Level subjects. The proposed changes are a response to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A major proposal is a later start for examinations, with Ofqual asking exam boards to consider if GCSE exams could start after the spring half term break, on 7 June 2021, but with results still being issued by the planned date of 26 August 2021. Ofqual also say they are considering whether such a change would be appropriate for the A Level exam timetable in 2021.

There are broadly two main strands to the changes Ofqual proposes. The first are changes intended to free up teaching time, reflecting that many students will have had their progress disrupted. Examples of these include allowing students in science subjects to observe rather than undertake practical experiments, and in art and design assessing students solely on their portfolio. The other strand is adaptations to exams/assessments to address obstacles that could be created by public health restrictions. Examples of these include relaxing the requirement in A level dance that students must perform as part of a quartet, allowing students instead to perform 2 solos. GCSE drama students will be permitted to watch a streamed/recorded live performance rather than seeing a live performance in a theatre.

Sally Collier, Ofqual’s chief regulator, said: ‘We have considered a wide range of options before coming forward with a set of proposals for next year’s GCSE, AS and A level exams which will help reduce the pressure on students and teachers, while allowing them to progress with valid qualifications which higher educational institutions and employers can trust. I would encourage all those with an interest in our consultation to give us their views.’

The consultation, which closes on 16 July 2020, can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/yakpd66g

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