The COVID pandemic has disrupted many lives, with education being affected massively. The cancellation of exams sent everyone in the exam world into a tailspin. We have had to navigate a situation no one has experienced before. This has been stressful for our students and us here at the Centre.

For private candidates and those who support them there has been a huge amount of uncertainty. At the start of the year when exams were cancelled yet again, how private candidates would be assessed was not clear. When the decision was made to treat these candidates in the same way as other students in England, we had a lot of work to do to get the right procedures in place.

Here we will explain how grades have been awarded and the appeals procedure that has been implemented. We will also provide details of the exam opportunities available for students in the Autumn.

Starting from scratch

The word unprecedented has been used a lot in the last year but this really was a situation we have never had to deal with before. Unlike schools, who have a good knowledge of their pupils, we very rarely meet our candidates. In the last six months we have had to develop an assessment approach that follows the government guidelines. This means we have had to print and distribute past papers, invigilate and then mark the assessments, leading to the decision on grades.

Despite the pressure and difficulties, we have never wavered in our commitment to helping all our students receive the grades they deserve. We have had to create a totally new system from the ground up and are proud of the fact we have been able to help our students during a very disruptive time in their lives.

What we have achieved

By Friday 18th June we had submitted over 670 grades for over 370 students. The gathering of evidence during May involved over 1400 past papers being completed and marked in under two weeks. Between Monday 21st and Wednesday 23rd June, like all schools and colleges across England, we completed the Quality Assurance Process. This involved provided samples of student work to the exam boards to support them in reviewing all grades.

Laptop and mobile phoneWhen will the exam results be published?

The results days have been confirmed as follows.

AS & A-Level – Tuesday 10th August 2021
GCSE & IGCSE – Thursday 12th August 2021

We aim to have all results sent via email by 9.00 am on the applicable date.

What happens if I am not happy with my grades?

We have worked hard to ensure all the grades we submitted were correct. However, there will be an appeals system in place to act as a safety net to fix any genuine errors that are identified. If a student believes an error has been made in determining their grade, they will have a right to appeal.

There are two stages to the appeals process:

Stage 1: centre review

If a student thinks their grade is incorrect, they can submit an appeal to us and we will review whether we:

• made an administrative error, e.g., we submitted an incorrect grade; we used an incorrect assessment mark when determining their grade.
• did not apply a procedure correctly, e.g., we did not take account of access arrangements or special consideration.
To help a student decide whether to appeal, they can request the following information from us on results day: –
• the sources of evidence used to determine their grade along with any grades/marks associated with them.
• details of any special circumstances that have been considered in determining their grade, e.g., special consideration.

Stage 2: appeal to the exam board

If a student still does not think they have the correct grade after the centre review is complete, they can ask us to appeal to the exam board, who will review whether: –

• we made an unreasonable exercise of academic judgement in the choice of evidence from which we determined their grade and/or in the determination of their grade from that evidence.
• we did not apply a procedure correctly, e.g., we did not take account of access arrangements or special consideration.
• the exam board made an administrative error, e.g., they changed their grade during the processing of grades.
It is important to note that a student’s grade can go down, up, or stay the same through either stage of the process.

We hope this gives students peace of mind that there is a process in place if they feel their grade is not correct.

Autumn Exam Series Opportunity

The exam boards have created an additional examination series this Autumn for GCSEs, IGCSEs and A-Levels. This is open to students that are disappointed with the teacher assessed grades they receive this Summer and would like to re-take, or for students who the exam boards believe would have intended to enter the Summer ‘21 exams had they not been cancelled.

We will be running this series in line with the COVID rules and guidelines at the time of the exams.

Young lady at computerFunctional Skills Maths Examination

Throughout the Summer we will be offering on-screen Functional Skills Maths examinations on a daily basis. This is an excellent alternative Maths qualification for students that urgently need to demonstrate their maths ability to go to their chosen college or university, or for a job application. You can find out more about our functional skills maths opportunities here.

Enjoy the Summer

After what has been a very stressful year for us all we want to wish all our students a fantastic Summer. For those students awaiting grades, we hope you achieve the results you need to move forward with your plans. For others who are waiting to take exams in the normal way again we look forward to welcoming students back for exams in the Autumn. For now, I think we are all looking forward to some rest and recovery!

If you want to discuss your options for the next exam series please Get In Touch.