Post 16 Exams update

Dear Parents and Carers

Since the UK went into lockdown and schools were closed, there have been several announcements by the Department for Education, Ofqual and exam boards regarding what will happen to examinations planned for Post-16 students between now and the summer holiday.  Although announcements continue to be made, this letter aims to capture the most up to date information for you.

IB Exams

Last year, in May 2020, IB exams were cancelled all over the world in response to the pandemic.  To calculate overall grades, teachers had to submit every student’s coursework to the IB and this was then marked by IB examiners.  The IB then used historical data to statistically calculate how many marks students achieving each possible coursework mark would have been most likely to achieve in exams, if they had taken them.  These extrapolated exam marks were then added to the coursework marks to determine overall marks for each student, from which final grades were then awarded.

This year, for the 2021 year 13 cohort, the IB has had two alternative assessment routes available to schools globally.  If the pandemic allowed schools to remain open, schools could still put their students in to take exams.  If the pandemic required schools to be closed, schools would have to opt for the alternative assessment method used last year.

Until 4th January, when schools in the UK were instructed to close, we were intending to enter all IB students for exams.  Now that UK schools have closed and as we do not yet have a confirmed reopening date, we have notified the IB of our need to switch to the alternative assessment route.  If the IB confirms that we are able to do so, this will mean that there will be no IB examinations this summer. While we anticipate that students, therefore, do not need to continue preparing for IB examinations with their teachers, students DO need to continue to work and complete all other aspects of their IB courses.

This means that internal assessments (coursework) now become the top priority for all IB students in Module 3, as they are likely to be the pieces of work from which their exam marks will be extrapolated.  Their teachers will now focus entirely on coursework completion and improvement with their students and students need to devote all of their time and energy to that process for their IB subjects in Module 3.  Teachers will imminently be sharing revised plans for lessons in Module 3 and revised deadlines with their students via their Google Classrooms.  In most subjects, the deadline for handing in completed coursework will be Thursday 11th February, although later deadlines will be set by a small number of subjects, due to special circumstances created by the demands of their coursework.  This is most notably true for IB Film students, a plan for whom will be shared as soon as we are able.

We are fortunate that the IB has had this alternative assessment route planned since last August, so we are very well set up to enact this change of approach.  We can also reassure you that our IB students did not suffer in the least in 2020 and, in fact, secured our best grades since we began offering IB qualifications in 2017.  We are confident that our IB students this year will not be disadvantaged by this alteration.

LIBF Finance and BTEC Exams

Following the Secretary of State for Education’s letter to Ofqual this week, the LIBF has confirmed that the March series of examinations for both the Certificate and Diploma courses will not take place.  In the letter, it was also explained that both LIBF and BTEC qualifications will now be treated in the same way as A levels, with an alternative assessment method used to determine students’ grades instead of students taking examinations this summer.  This alternative method is likely to include some element of teacher assessment that may require students to take tests in school when we reopen later in the year, so it is vital that students remain engaged with their learning and keep up with the work being set by teachers via their Google Classrooms, in order to be ready to take those tests this summer, if they take place.

A level Exams

Ofqual and the Department for Education will begin their two week joint consultation next week to gather views on the best alternative to examinations this summer and the decisions they reach will explain what assessment methods will be used to replace A level examinations, which have been cancelled.  As with LIBF and BTEC examinations, the alternative method will include an element of teacher assessment but may also include students completing coursework and taking teacher-assessed tests in school when we reopen, students must remain engaged with their learning, in order to be ready for the system of grading that is announced by the Secretary of State when the consultation has concluded.

Going forward

We must now await the publication of the decisions made by the Secretary of State but we will not receive that guidance until the two week Ofqual consultation has been completed and analysed.  We will write to you again when we have been advised of how assessment and grading will be undertaken in all of these qualifications.  In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns or need to raise any issues specific to your own child, please contact Mr Burton via email, so that he can assist you.

 

Yours faithfully,

Mrs Julia Collins | Principal

Mr Lee Forcella-Burton | Director of Post-16 and IB Coordinator
lee.forcellaburton@leighacademy.org.uk