Students with A-level, AS, and GSCE degrees in England are likely to be asked to write mini external exams to help teachers with their assessments after the cancellation of the formal examination last week.
Gavin Williamson said in his letter to the exams regulator, Ofqual, Education Secretary that this will assist teachers to choose “deserved grades”.
It is said by the Headteachers that for these plans “devil was in the detail”.
The letter was published on Wednesday morning, as Mr. Williamson appeared before the education select committee to answer questions on the impact of Covid-19 on education
In the letter to Ofqual, he said: “A breadth of evidence should inform teachers’ judgments, and the provision of training and guidance will support teachers to reach their assessment of a student’s deserved grade.
“In addition, I would like to explore the possibility of providing externally set tasks or papers, in order that teachers can draw on this resource to support their assessments of students.”
Mr. Williamson’s promise not to use an algorithm to determine grades comes after the results of thousands of A-level students are been downgraded from school estimation last summer (before the announcement of the allowance of teachers using teachers, prediction by Ofqual).
“We have agreed that we will not use an algorithm to set or automatically standardize anyone’s grade,” says the letter.
“Schools and colleges should undertake quality assurance of their teachers’ assessments and provide reassurance to the exam boards. We should provide training and guidance to support that, and there should also be external checks in place to support fairness and consistency between different institutions and to avoid schools and colleges proposing anomalous grades.”
But he added: “Changes should only be made if those grades cannot be justified, rather than as a result of marginal differences of opinion.
“Any changes should be based on human decisions, not by an automatic process or algorithm.”
National Education Union joint general secretary Dr. Mary Bousted said: “Had the government listened to the NEU and put in place a contingency plan sooner we would be in a better position now to make sure grades could be awarded reliably and without creating severe workload issues for education staff and students.She said will proceed to work with the DfE(Depart for Education) and Ofqual, but they want to see the full details of the plans as soon as possible to make sure grades are fair and the method is manageable for staff.While answering questions from MPs on the education select committee, Mr. Williamson said he wanted schools to re-open as soon as possible and that he would “never apologize for being the biggest champion for keeping schools open”.
Answering a wide range of questions, Mr. Williamson said:
- he would “make no apology” for making sure all the school workers arrange for vaccination and said he was fighting “tooth and nail” to make sure they were vaccinated as soon as possible.
- agreed that from next week, a national food permit will be made available for all English schools.
- back up his decision to keep nurseries open, on the ground that most families still rely on old educational service and said there was “no intention” to close them.
- certify that the government is looking at a system where parents could test their children at home, saying it was “not appropriate or right” to ask staff to test primary-school pupils.
- said multiple testing would be done for both teaching and support staff in primary schools by next week, adding that primary teachers and support staff would be able to self-administer tests at home with the help of a £78m support package.