GCSE and A-levels: Ofqual reveals quality assurance evidence requirements

Every school will be asked to provide samples of student work for the quality assurance process after submitting teacher assessment grades for GCSE and A-levels this year, Ofqual has said.

In a blog, Cath Jadhav, the regulator’s director of standards and comparability, said exam boards would request samples of work from at least five students in at least one A-level subject from each school. Students and subjects will be chosen by exam boards.

They will ask for two GCSE subjects, one of which is likely to be either English language or maths, again with at least five students for each.

This process will form part of the third stage of quality assurance, which involves sampling of schools’ grades after they are all submitted in June.

All schools will also be asked to provide the evidence used to determine the grades for the students selected, Jadhav said today. 

Evidence needed within 48 hours of request

Boards will let schools know which subjects and students have been selected for sampling in the week beginning June 21.

Jadhav said schools would need to “promptly” submit the evidence – within 48 hours of the request – so it is important a school’s evidence and records “are in good order ahead of that date”.

Subject experts at the boards will then review evidence provided by a sample of schools.

Some will be chosen at random, but others will be targeted based on other factors, such as “significant changes in entry patterns” or where a centre is identified as needing additional support.

Boards will also select schools where the proportion of grades in 2021 appears “significantly higher or lower” than results in previous years when exams took place – 2017, 2018 and 2019.

But the comparison will be made at qualification level, rather than individual subject.

Boards will prioritise checks at schools where results are “more out of line” with historical results.

But Jadhav said it does not mean schools must award grades “to closely match those in previous years” or that the information from previous years “should be used to suppress results”.

“There can be good reasons for results to vary from one year to the next, and centres should record the reasons for any substantial variances, in line with the centre’s policy.”

The first two stages of quality assurances involve every school having their centre policy summary reviews by exam boards. Virtual visits will then take place at the second stage, if the board has questions or concerns.

The JCQ guidance published last month said that a school’s failure to engage in quality checks could lead to further investigation.

(Article from Schools Week – 22nd April 2021)