1 April 2020
I am writing to all teachers to help bring some clarity to the uncertainty around examinations, coursework, controlled assessments and internal assessments. I also wish to ensure that all teachers are acting in a consistent manner and communicating the same message to pupils in regard to completing work or preparing for examinations.
On 30 March, I contacted the CCEA helpline and set out my concerns in relation to recent, and confusing, communication sent to school leaders and examination officers. I pointed out that in one letter the guidance was that all examinations at GCSE and A Level were cancelled, and that controlled assessments and coursework should cease with immediate effect. However; a subsequent letter stated that ‘learners should still be working towards completing their programme of study’. I asked why teachers are required to upload marks when many tasks are incomplete and those that are will not be moderated for the purpose of standardisation. Indeed, in order to access marks teachers would be required to go into school to collect mark-sheets, assessments and planners. This puts teachers at risk and is counter to instructions from government to stay at home and not undertake any non-essential journeys. It would appear that CCEA took my concerns on board and later issued further clarification on guidance it had provided earlier in the week. As a result, I would like all teachers to take note of the following advice from CCEA:
- Summer 2020 examinations have been cancelled;
- Pupils should do no further work on Controlled Assessments, coursework and other practical activities;
- Teachers must retain all information and evidence already produced;
- Teachers must not open GCSE Speaking exams, role plays and teacher booklets;
- Where candidate record sheets have not been signed, you can accept candidate authentication by email. The candidate should state that ‘the work produced and submitted for assessment is all my own work’. If you are unable to secure candidate authentication CCEA will work with centres at a later stage;
- Teachers should stop working on assessment, administration and the uploading of marks. It is useful to store marks, but it is not a CCEA requirement in the current circumstances;
- Teachers and pupils may wish to continue to cover course content and learning outcomes in the relevant specification, if circumstances allow, to help prepare the learner for the next stage in their education, training or employment. This work WILL NOT BE ASSESSED or contribute in any way towards accreditation.
It is clear to me that CCEA and other awarding bodies are finding a solution to this crisis incredibly difficult to come by and I suspect it will be some time before we are any clearer on the way forward. Therefore, it is important that we do not speculate or send mixed messages to our already anxious students. The message is clear with regard to CCEA- STOP.
Btec suggested in a letter to examination officers last week that they would like us, if possible to submit our award claims for all learners requiring certification by the 3rd April. The Heads of Department agreed that we would do this and have been working very hard with their teachers to get their assessment plans and tracker sheets completed during the past week to enable Mrs Milne and Mrs Mullan to enter this information. Having spoken with Btec on several occasions this week, they have acknowledged that the request for exam entries and claims for completed units was made so that they could assess the scale of the impact on centres and learners.
When Btec were made aware of CCEAs update for teachers ‘’that all activity around internal assessment should stop including: ‘’… teachers working on assessment, administration and the uploading of marks’’, they understood how confusing the messages were that we were receiving and appreciate our need for clarification and consistency. They have advised us to hold off submitting any marks until they are in a position to provide us with more definitive guidance. They hope to provide more information directly to centres as soon as they have it.
We would like Heads of Department to retain their assessment plans/track sheets until such times as we are advised what course of action to follow. When these assessment plans are updated (as far as 25thMarch) no further data should be input. Pupils should not be asked to work on any new assignments and teachers should not mark anything further.
We still, as a centre, expect that Btec may require this information at some point, so please keep it safe and we will have it if and when it is required. For the time being we will wait on further instruction from Btec. In respect of calculating grades for this year Btec have said that they are currently working with the DfE and Ofqual, as well as other awarding bodies, to ensure that a process is arrived at that will ensure a fair and valid result for certificating learners.
As all awarding bodies in England and Wales are regulated by Ofqual, we must assume that the same guidance applies to all other examination boards. As soon as we receive any guidance from Prince’s Trust, OCR and OCN I will share it with you.
Any results that Mrs Milne receives for exams already taken before school closed will be emailed to staff in due course. We will discuss how these results are best shared with pupils, although an email from the respective head of Department or subject teacher may be the best to do this. We will come back to you when we have decided on the appropriate course of action.
To conclude, I would like to pass on my thanks to Mrs Mullan and Mrs Milne for their efforts in trying to bring some clarity to a very confusing situation. Although it may appear so, this is not an April Fool’s joke. I would also like to thank each and everyone one of you for sharing the load to provide for our pupils. Please remember though, these are exceptional circumstances and the work you set should reflect this. Do not attempt to do as much work as you would normally do in school- it just isn’t possible!
Stay at home!