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GCSE Exams 2021

Discussion in 'News' started by sba1, Jun 3, 2020.

  1. sba1

    sba1 New commenter

    Has anyone had any news about what will be happening to GCSE's in 2021?
  2. sxhudson

    sxhudson New commenter

    From a science point of view a simple solution would be to only assess the yr10 paper 1 content. AQA have published preliminary exam 2021 timetables but this was back in Feb. lets hope a pragmatic approach is taken.
    agathamorse likes this.
  3. nervousned

    nervousned Senior commenter

    Such an approach will not work in most subjects/schools.

    Schools will have decided to teach topics in different orders. It is not possible to cut topics from 2021 papers without giving advantages to some schools over other schools.

    Pragmatically, the fairest thing to do would to be to assess as normal and use the comparable outcomes system to set suitable grade boundaries.
    ridleyrumpus and jusch like this.
  4. sxhudson

    sxhudson New commenter

    I disagree.

    How can you assess normally when we've not had sufficient contact time to complete all the units required for this? Taking this approach will cause a large amount of stress for students and staff as they will not have completed the learning and they'd need.

    With respect to science, the units covered in yr10/paper 1(s) contain the fundamental principals which are then developed in yr11. I would have thought that most centres will have started with these.

    We will undoubtedly endure further disruption in the autumn and spring terms with further lost of contact time. If the exam boards are proactive and act quickly to instruct centres to teach certain units a lot of stress can be avoided. This will give a fairer playing field as schools can work to the new end point in the time remaining. There will obviously implications for post 16 courses which build on the yr11 topics but the time lost can't be recouped.
    bosalls likes this.
  5. nervousned

    nervousned Senior commenter

    Your answer seems extremely focused on the teaching of your subject and therefore ignores my point. In different schools for many subjects, different topics will have been chosen for teaching in Y10. In these subjects it is not possible to do what you are suggesting fairly. If it can't be done for all subjects, it is unlikely to go ahead.

    It would be fairer to use the system used for this summer than what you are suggesting.
    Sharpie123 likes this.
  6. Sharpie123

    Sharpie123 New commenter

    As a marker, I have a vested interest in this but I can't see how it's possible - or indeed desirable -to have exams in 2021.

    I am an English teacher and it isn't comparable to science - the Literature texts can be taught in any order and something that I covered in September 2019 may be taught by other schools in the summer term. Furthermore, Language papers test cumulative skills, not subject content. So students get better and better at forms of reading and writing throughout the two year course (hopefully). Without the skills development, they will not achieve in the same way in the terminal exams. I imagine it's the same in drama, music, art, PE, tech - you're just better at the end of year 11 than you are at the beginning of year 10.

    If Teacher Assessment is good enough for this year - a cohort that had covered some 80% of the curriculum by the time schools closed - why isn't it good enough for the 2021 cohort? No one seriously expects students to be back in full time in September.

    In fact, it rather begs the question about why we need these costly, time consuming, high stakes exams at all at the age of 16 ...
  7. jonnymarr

    jonnymarr Occasional commenter

    I've heard it suggested that there might be some assessment where pupils get a high degree of choice as to which questions they answer ( to take into account which texts/topics they have studied 'properly' ) plus an element of statistical adjustment on top of that. It's all a bit of a mess really, isn't it?
  8. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    Perhaps the discussion shouldn’t have started until we’ve considered and discussed the following question.

    What are GCSEs for?

    Are they a course which it’s important to complete in its own right, to be educationally valid, and personally worthwhile, and in addition, necessary to bring pupils up to a certain level of knowledge and skills?

    Or is it an examination to be used to rank students against each other during one year (and across years), to help decide their future path?

    Because how you answer that question will almost certainly inform how you answer the one about whether or not to hold exams.

    On a linked issue, what’s going to happen in sixth forms with the current Years 10 & (the just left) 11? And possibly 9 going into 10, who’s school time is almost certainly going to be disrupted, too.

    Will any of them be capable of even starting, for example, science ‘A’ Level, irrespective of whether they sat an examination?
  9. install

    install Star commenter

    If current Yr11s and Yr13 can have Teacher Assessments it is only fair that Yr10s and Yr12 have the same imho. Covid 19 has hit their lessons and learning hard.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2020
  10. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah Occasional commenter

    So realistically the current year 11s will never have been tested and may not have learnt important information. How can a medical school accept a student who has never sat an external science exam and may have only been taught part of the A level course?
    More importantly when they do come to sit an important exam how will they cope having never had that experience. All students have missed learning, private school seem to be managing to teach their students via zoom, why can't all state schools?
    lorencanna likes this.
  11. Tinyreader

    Tinyreader New commenter

    Based on your last question, I’m assuming that you either teach in a private school or don’t teach at all?
    We are running a mixture of assignments set on OneDrive and Skype lessons, but not all students are able to attend the live lessons. Many households have 1 device, shared between parents working from home and several children all attempting to complete work.

    We are also in a rural area where several households have very poor internet. Despite organising for some devices to be lent to students, dongles paid for, there are still areas that cannot get any internet access at all.

    That doesn’t even begin to take in to consideration that some students simply will not engage with the work without being in the classroom.

    I agree that teacher assessment seems to be the fairest option. Although comparAble outcomes would adjust grade boundaries, they will undoubtably favour advantaged students far more than any other year. To add even further to the disparity, if and when local lockdowns happen next year, certain areas will be hit harder than others.
    ridleyrumpus and agathamorse like this.
  12. jonnymarr

    jonnymarr Occasional commenter

    In response to bramblesarah:
    I'm in a state school and we've done pretty extensive bridging work to prepare Y13s for their university courses, concentrating on skills and knowledge they will need there. I might even go as far as to say it was one of the most enjoyable tasks I have had since this all kicked off - matching further reading & suggested self-study tasks to the needs of individuals who would be going on to study my subject at university.
    In many cases we would have spent the final few weeks revising for exams ( we'd completed teaching the specification ) but given this ( hopefully ) unique opportunity we chose instead to extend their learning rather than simply drilling them for the ( narrow ) A-level exams. In that respect they might just be better prepared for H.E. than any other cohort that has ever gone through. We're also teaching Y12 via Teams and have done since very early on in the lockdown. Admittedly we didn't prioritise Y13 for interactive teaching, but neither did we abdicate any responsibility for them. They're still 'ours' until they officially leave. On-going interactive bridging classes via Teams are being held for Y11. They are not missing out either & might arguably be better prepared for their 3/4 A-levels or specific vocational courses than they would otherwise have been.
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. defenceagainstthedarkarts

    defenceagainstthedarkarts Occasional commenter

    I can’t speak for Science, but certainly the English lit paper really is as simple as having all the questions available as normal but students only answering three. It isn’t in any way an impossible problem to get around.
    RufusBee likes this.
  14. jonnymarr

    jonnymarr Occasional commenter

    More in the press today about Ofqual considering a) putting the exams back to July ( ! ) and b) using the same system as 2020. Surely (b) is the more likely?
    Aside from the potential logistical issues in school, I wonder how examiners would feel about the idea of everything being pushed back to July+? Perhaps some will simply be glad of the chance to earn some money, but if it does come to this, you'd expect huge pressure on them to turn things around very quickly.
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. ladyhawk

    ladyhawk New commenter

    If the decision is made to use teacher assessment in 2021, then it will be difficult to return to the exam system the following year. A lot of senior assessors are career examiners who do work all year round for ABs. We wouldn’t be able to afford to lose our income two years running, so will have to get different jobs. Many permanent staff at the ABs would need to be laid off. It will be impossible to get that lost expertise back the following year. That will commit teachers to continuing assessment with its increased workload. We can adapt papers making them flexible. We can apportion marks according to modules covered. We can adjust grade boundaries to reflect achievement in previous years. We can push exams back two to three weeks without too much overlap with school holidays. This is assuming we don’t get a large second spike. In that case, who knows? We’ll probably all be looking at students repeating the year in our already overcrowded schools.
  16. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Just a quickie: I am very keen to purloin the AQA English papers from last year as I am a lowly tutor trying to do past papers with the local kids. I will guard it in utmost secrecy. I will hide it in my safe. No I won’t set the exact question, I just want to see what came up last year as it affects what Literature and Lang extracts I set now. Why AQA do nit stay current baffles me. Website does not go past 2018. My year 10 students have now done all these. So annoying as I taught that board for years but am now in the wilderness. The Literature is the biggie. A lot of my students have just not been set any timed essays, so if you can help...
  17. 03mkk

    03mkk New commenter

    I don’t think this is the right forum for this...
    I don’t teach English personally but in my subject, I find it really irritating when tutors use recent (or even protected/secure) papers as they are often saved for internal assessments or mocks and give us valuable progress data. Even if you adapt the questions, they won’t be ‘completely unseen questions’ when the students are asked to sit the paper eventually.
    littledragon25 likes this.
  18. masterplan1001

    masterplan1001 New commenter

  19. masterplan1001

    masterplan1001 New commenter

    The papers will not be released at all. They will be banked as a spare set for future use in the event of something like a security breach. Your best option is to create your own exam-type questions for when exam practice is needed. It always astonishes me that some teachers/tutors seem able to teach only using exam practice questions. As a student, I would find that completely stultifying. Learning English is so much more than getting good at exams
  20. border_walker

    border_walker Lead commenter

    As an examiner it was common to see students answering questions with the answer to a previous years question which was slightly similar. Generally scored few, if any, marks.

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