Exams return to normal in 2023
GCSE, AS and A level examinations in England will largely return to pre-pandemic arrangements next summer as young people continue to recover from the pandemic.
In line with plans set out last September, Ofqual has confirmed a return to pre-pandemic rankings in 2023.
To protect students from the disruptions of recent years, and in case student performance is slightly lower than before the pandemic, senior examiners will use grades obtained by previous cohorts of students, as well as data on past results, to inform their decisions on where to go. set level limits.
This mirrors the approach used in the early years of reformed GCSEs and A Levels in 2017, when early cohorts were shielded from the impact of changes in qualifications and means, for example, a typical A Level student who would have obtained an A grade before. the pandemic will be just as likely to get an A this summer.
The government also confirms that students should continue to receive support in GCSE maths, physics and combined science with formulas and equation worksheets, but not with advance information on the content of the exam, as was the case last year.
The decisions reflect the reduced levels of disruption this cohort has experienced compared to cohorts from the previous two years. Ofqual has today launched a consultation on plans for formulas and equation sheets.
Education Secretary Kit Malthouse said:
Students preparing for their qualifications next year expect fairness in exams and grading arrangements, which is why we are returning to pre-pandemic normality.
Schools are doing a great job of helping students catch up and get back on track, including through the National Tutoring Scheme, which continues to offer one-to-one or small group tuition for students who need support. extra help.
Chief Regulator Dr Jo Saxton said:
This summer has been an important step towards normality. Our plans for 2023 go further, while acknowledging the impact of Covid.
I have visited schools and colleges across the country and witnessed the admirable resilience and dedication of young people. Giving the 2023 cohort some protection against any impact of the Covid disruption is the right thing to do. Our approach to grading in 2023 will provide a soft landing for students as we continue the process of returning the exam system to normal.
Ofqual already announced earlier this year that pre-pandemic arrangements for assessment without examination, fieldwork and practical sciences have been reinstated. The department has meanwhile confirmed that schools and colleges will teach the full qualifying content this year to students taking exams in 2023.
The system of professional and technical qualifications (VTQ) and other general qualifications was confirmed in May 2022.
Ofqual does not expect any other adaptations to be used in VTQs. Certifying bodies are expected to consider the approach, including scoring, used in general qualifications so that students taking VTQs are not comparatively advantaged or disadvantaged.
UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant said:
We welcome today’s announcement from the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual).
As an independent charity, UCAS’ goal is to help students make informed decisions about their future that are right for them, whether they pursue university, college or an apprenticeship, and this early clarification means that students will be able to apply with confidence in the 2023 cycle.
Higher education admissions are becoming more competitive, with a one-third increase in the number of 18-year-olds expected to apply by 2026. The move will help teachers and counselors give their students the best advice, while allowing universities and colleges to bid with certainty.
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:
Returning to a ranking profile consistent with pre-pandemic levels, with some protection, is the right thing to do now. This provides certainty for everyone in the system – students, parents, teachers, counsellors, employers – but we also need to be mindful of the ongoing impact that pandemic lockdowns have had for many young people on mental health, confidence and study skills and make sure they get the support they need.
A series of new consultations relating to qualifications next year and in the years to come were also launched today:
The department and Ofqual are jointly consulting on advice to schools and colleges on collecting assessment evidence to support resilience in the general qualifications system. The guidance proposes that schools and colleges collect evidence in a way that aligns with their normal arrangements for preparing students for exams, helping to ensure readiness should a scenario arise again where it would be unsafe or unfair for students to take exams.
The department and Ofqual are both consulting on plans to remove the expectation that students engage with unfamiliar and abstract material, such as unfamiliar vocabulary, in Modern Foreign Language (MFL) GCSE assessments at from 2023. The Department’s consultation covers the programme, while Ofqual’s covers how it is assessed.
The Joint Qualifications Council (JCQ) is consulting on next summer’s exam schedule, which aims to maintain some of the space provided in last year’s exam schedule between the first and last exam in the same material. This spacing has been welcomed by schools and colleges in 2022 and reduces the risk of students missing all exams in a subject due to circumstances such as illness.
The department’s decisions on next year’s arrangements reflect that schools have remained open to all students throughout the past school year, with this year’s cohort given the opportunity to benefit from classroom time with teachers and interventions such as the national tutoring program, compared to students from the two previous cohorts.
The government is investing nearly £5billion to support student recovery from the impact of the pandemic, including £1.5billion for tutoring programs and nearly £2billion in direct funding, largely for those who need help the most.
More than 2 million lessons have now started under the national tutoring scheme, including 1.8 million so far in around 80% of schools, helping children catch up on learning.