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Students

Examinations & Revision

GCSE grades 2021

Centre Policy for determining teacher assessed grades in Summer 2021 >

GCSE and A Level grades 2021

We would like to thank you for your patience with the many changes which have been necessary this year. We recognise the unique pressures and concerns which have affected our students and families since March 2020 and greatly appreciate all that you have done to support students and our staff through these challenging times.

As you will be aware, the system for awarding grades at GCSE and A Level is different this year and every school is required to outline the processes it will follow in a Centre Policy document. This document is available on our school website under the section "GCSE and A Level grades 2021". Some of the key points from the document are summarised below for your information:

Statement of Intent 

Processes will be in place to ensure that teacher assessed grades are determined fairly and consistently within and across departments, and that judgements are free from bias. We will ensure our centre meets all requirements set out by the Department of Education, Ofqual, the Joint Council for Qualifications and awarding organisations for Summer 2021 qualifications.     

How we will determine Teacher Assessed Grades  

All teachers are in the process of completing training on the requirements set out by the bodies mentioned above for determining grades this year. 

Teacher assessed grades will be determined based on evidence of the content that has been taught and assessed for each student. Each subject department may draw evidence from the following sources when making judgements: 

  • student work produced in response to assessment materials provided by our awarding organisations, including groups of questions, past papers or similar materials such as practice or sample papers; 
  • non-exam assessment work (often referred to as coursework), even if this has not been fully completed; 
  • student work produced in centre-devised tasks that reflect the specification, that follow the same format as awarding organisation materials, and have been marked in a way that reflects awarding organisation mark schemes; 
  • substantial class or homework.  Work that took place during remote learning will be taken into account where teachers are confident that this represents a true reflection of the student’s capability and performance; 
  • internal tests taken by students; 
  • records of a student’s capability and performance over the course of study in performance-based subjects such as music, drama and PE. For PE, where possible, we will consult with qualified and approved external coaches who have been working with students on practical sports. Any evidence from such consultations which is used in grading decisions will be in writing and signed by the coach and will be kept securely at the school.

We will consider the level of control under which an assessment was completed. For example, whether the evidence was produced under supervision at school. We will also ensure that we are able to authenticate all work produced as the student’s own.

Initial Teacher Assessed Grades will then be subject to a Quality Control process involving internal moderation and standardisation of grades before submission to exam boards. We will submit grades to exam boards by 18th June 2021.

Quality Control by exam boards 

Exam boards will request evidence for a sample of at least 5 students across a minimum of 2 GCSE subjects and 1 A Level subject. We will submit the data which was used to arrive at grades for these students as well as the student work which contributed to the result. Exam boards will then review and request any further samples as appropriate.

Confidentiality of Grades 

We are required to maintain full confidentiality of Teacher Assessed Grades and are not permitted to discuss these with students, parents or anyone else not authorised by the awarding organisations. 

Issue of results 

A/AS results will be available to students on 10th August 2021 and GCSE results will be available to students on 12th August 2021. We will write to students and parents later in the summer term with further details of arrangements for collecting results. 

Arrangements will be in place for the provision of all necessary advice, guidance and support to students on receipt of their results. Information will also be available on the appeals process in place in 2021. 

A/AS Level and GCSE Grades and Appeals in 2021

This information is intended to provide information to help explain the appeals process this summer to students and parents. There is likely to be a Student and Parent Guide published by the Joint Council for Qualifications later in the summer term. We will send further information when that document is published.

How were my / my child’s grades arrived at this year?

Grades this summer were based on Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs). TAGs were submitted to the exam boards by us as a holistic assessment of students’ performance in a subject, following a rigorous process of assessment, moderation and quality assurance.

These grades are currently undergoing a process of external quality assurance checks by the relevant exam boards.

In some cases, the TAGs we submitted may be reviewed by the exam board, who may ask us to submit an alternative grade. Any such changes to the grades will be carried out by professional teachers or reviewers; this year no grades will be changed as a result of an algorithm.

When will we know the results (TAGs)?

AS/A Level results will be available on 10th August 2021 and GCSE results will be available on 12th August 2021. We will write with details of arrangements for collecting results shortly.

What do I do if I’m not happy with my / my child’s grade?

All students have the opportunity to appeal their grade if they meet the eligibility criteria (see below). It is important to note that an appeal may result in a grade being lowered, staying the same, or going up. If a student puts in an appeal and their grade is lowered, they will receive the lower mark.

There is also the option to resit GCSEs, A levels and some AS levels in the autumn, which may be preferable to some students. The design, content and assessment of these papers will be the same as in a normal year. Details of autumn exams will be provided when dates are confirmed by exam boards.

What are the grounds for appeal?

There are five main grounds for appeal, as dictated by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). They are:

  • You think we have made an administrative error: an example of this would be putting the wrong information into a spreadsheet.
  • You think we have made a procedural error: this means we haven’t properly followed our own process, as approved by the exam board. An example of this would be where you’ve been told you should have received extra time for assessments but this wasn’t given in a certain subject.
  • You think the academic judgement on the selection of evidence was unreasonable: you think the evidence used to grade you was not reasonable.
  • You think the academic judgement on the grade you were given was unreasonable.

 

What does ‘unreasonable’ mean?

‘Unreasonable’ is a technical term in this context and means that no educational professional acting reasonably could have selected the same evidence or come up with the same grade.

This means that just because other forms of evidence may have been equally valid to use, the selection of evidence is not unreasonable. Because of the flexibility of the approach this year, every school and college will have used different forms of evidence.

It also means that the independent reviewers will not remark or grade students’ evidence. Instead, they will look to see whether any teacher acting reasonably could have arrived at the same grade.

What will be the outcome of an appeal?

At either stage of the appeals process (see ‘What are the two stages of an appeal?’ below), a student’s grade may go up, stay the stay, or go down. When placing an appeal, the student will have to sign a declaration saying that they accept the fact their grade may go down and they may get a lower grade than their original TAG.

What’s a priority appeal?

Priority appeals will be handled more quickly than other appeals, where possible before UCAS’s advisory deadline of 8 September.

Priory appeals are only open to A level students starting university this autumn, who have missed out on the conditions of their firm or insurance offer.

If you decided not to confirm a firm conditional offer and to go through clearing instead, JCQ cannot offer you a priority appeal.

JCQ cannot offer priority appeals for GCSE students, unfortunately.

When making a priority appeal, students will have to include their UCAS number so it can be confirmed that it is a genuine priority appeal.

What should I do if I don’t get into my first choice of university?

First, don’t panic. Speak to Mr Keshavarz about your options. You may wish to go through clearing, or sit the autumn exams or summer exams next year to try to improve your grade.

If you are going to appeal your grade, you must let your university know you are appealing. They will then let you know whether they will hold a place for you pending the outcome of an appeal (note that universities are not obliged to hold a place for you; this is at their discretion).

What should I do before appealing?

Students must read the JCQ Student and Parent guide before appealing, which will be available on the JCQ website by results days.

We may not be able to offer as much advice and guidance on the likely success of an appeal this summer as we would in normal years, as we have already moderated and quality assured all the grades ourselves.

What are the two stages of an appeal?

All appeals, on any of the grounds above, must first go through a centre review. At this stage, we will check for any administrative errors, and check that our policies and procedures were followed correctly. Our policy has already been approved by the exam boards, so we are only ensuring that we followed this properly.

The outcome of the centre review will be communicated to students when made.

At the centre review stage, if we find that a grade should go up or down, we will ask the exam board to change it. They will then consider this request.

Following the outcome of a centre review, students may still choose to pursue an awarding organisation appeal. They must fill a form, which we will then send on their behalf to the exam board. Students and parents cannot send appeals directly to the exam board themselves – these must come from us.

The outcome of the awarding organisation appeal will be communicated to students when made.

How do I make an appeal?

Appeals forms will be available on the results days. Students should fill in the first section of the form send it to Mrs Melton, the examinations officer.

What are the deadlines for priority appeals?

The suggested deadline for requesting a priority appeal against A/AS level grades is 16 August but we would advise that appeals are lodged as soon as possible after the results day (students cannot appeal before the results day).

We will attempt to complete the centre review by 20 August*. If students wish to progress this to an awarding organisation appeal, they must send the completed form to us by 23 August for priority appeals.

*At both stages of the appeals process, there may be the need for specialist, expert knowledge (e.g. subject teachers, SEND knowledge). This may not be possible in August. In such cases, we may have to wait until the start of term, but priority appeals will still be treated as a priority.

What are the deadlines for non-priority appeals?

Non-priority appeals are any A levels, GCSEs or vocational qualifications, where a firm or insurance university place is not pending.

The deadline for submitting a centre review is 3 September; and the deadline for submitting an awarding organisation appeal is 10 September.

Appeals received after these dates may still be considered.

You know my  / my child’s grades. Why can’t you tell us? What if you know we haven’t met our university conditional offer?

We are forbidden from disclosing the Teacher Assessed Grades to any third party, including students and parents, until results days. Any teacher or member of staff who does this is committing exam malpractice.

Although students may have been given marks or grades on single pieces of evidence, we cannot disclose the final submitted TAG.

During the external quality assurance process taking place in June or July, our submitted TAGs may be moved up or down (although this will always be done through human agency, not by an algorithm).

We only know what a student’s conditional offer is if they have chosen to share that information with us. It has not formed part of our objective grading of students. Where we do know this information, we must not let students know their submitted TAGs, even if they haven’t met the conditions of their offer.

Many thanks once again for your continued support and patience as we navigate these very particular arrangements for our students this year.



School term-time revision planner

This may help you to plan ahead and structure your revision. Make a plan which includes all of the subjects you will be examined in. Alter the times as necessary to suit your routine and fit in with clubs and after-school activities. You are allowed a night off!

Tips:

  • Remember to take regular breaks during your revision (20 minutes on, followed by a 10 minute break works well).

  • Make mind-maps/ posters / revision cards. This will ensure your revision is active and productive and you will be able to re-use them for the summer exams. Don’t forget to fill in your revision record so you remember which areas to request help with.

  • Do something to keep your brain / body active during your break (walk the dog, phone a friend, chat to a parent, play a game of cards etc. Don’t watch TV or use electronic devices which allow you to be passive and may tempt you to delay getting back to work.

  • Factor in mealtimes, sleep time and time for relaxing. If you are not well rested, well-nourished and happy you will not achieve your best.

Find appropriate slots for revision (but don’t forget to eat, sleep and have some fun)!

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Our Schools

Synergy Multi-Academy Trust comprises fifteen Norfolk schools serving children between the ages of 2 and 18. Our schools work collaboratively together to raise standards and provide education of the highest possible standard, offering the best of opportunities for pupils. The Trust was initially established in 2015. We believe that all of our schools have strengths and areas to develop, and that all can improve through sharing expertise and wisdom. The Trust understands that there will be excellent practice in each school, and that every school will be able to contribute to the development of the Trust as a whole.

Our Schools

Synergy Multi-Academy Trust comprises fifteen Norfolk schools serving children between the ages of 2 and 18. Our schools work collaboratively together to raise standards and provide education of the highest possible standard, offering the best of opportunities for pupils. The Trust was initially established in 2015. We believe that all of our schools have strengths and areas to develop, and that all can improve through sharing expertise and wisdom. The Trust understands that there will be excellent practice in each school, and that every school will be able to contribute to the development of the Trust as a whole.