GCE A-level and GCSE: Assessments

Department for Education written question – answered at on 25 July 2022.

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Photo of Munira Wilson Munira Wilson Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the announcement made by the Chief Regulator of Ofqual on 30 September 2021 that exam results in 2022 will "reflect a midway point between 2021 and 2019", what recent estimate Ofqual has made of the likely distribution of (a) A-Level and (b) GCSE grades in summer 2022.

Photo of Munira Wilson Munira Wilson Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the announcement by the Chief Regulator of Ofqual on 30 September 2021 that exam results in 2022 will "reflect a midway point between 2021 and 2019", whether (a) his Department or (b) UCAS have made a recent assessment of the number of students who will miss the requirements of their firm offer to study at university, relative to the numbers who missed such requirements in (i) 2021 and (ii) 2019.

Photo of Munira Wilson Munira Wilson Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the announcement by the Chief Regulator of Ofqual on 30 September 2021 that exam results in 2022 will "reflect a midway point between 2021 and 2019", whether he is taking steps he is taking to inform parents of students that overall exam grades awarded for GCSEs, AS levels and A levels in summer 2022 are expected to be lower than those awarded in summer 2021.

Photo of Andrea Jenkyns Andrea Jenkyns The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department is clear that exams are the best and fairest form of assessment for students to show what they know and can do. In 2022, students have taken exams and assessments in A levels, T Levels, and other post-16 qualifications for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. These examinations took place with adaptations to reflect the disruption young people have faced to their education throughout the pandemic.

The grading of GCSEs, AS, and A levels is a decision for Ofqual, as the independent regulator of qualifications. This summer, results will be higher than when summer exams were last sat, but lower than in 2021, when grades were awarded by teacher assessment. This means the bar for achieving an A, for example, will not be as high as it might have been in 2019.

The department has asked Ofqual’s Chief Regulator, Jo Saxton, to write directly to the hon. Member about the distribution of A level and GCSE grades in summer 2022, and the steps they are taking to inform parents about grading. A copy of her reply will be placed in the library of both Houses.

The department has, in collaboration with Ofqual, worked closely with the higher education (HE) sector in shaping the decisions around exams and assessments in 2022. Following Ofqual’s September 2021 announcement on grading, universities have set entry requirements and made offers to students according to this approach. Throughout the year, we have worked with the HE sector to brief providers on the approach to grading with extensive planning ahead of results day, including on operational readiness, and ensuring support is in place for students, whatever their next steps might be this summer.

Record numbers of students have applied to university this year. UCAS is expecting the majority of firm offer holders to gain a place at their firm choice university on A level and T Level results day. Students can have confidence that getting into HE is a fair process, with admissions teams taking into account the broad range of information about a student in addition to their predicted grades, including teacher references, and for certain courses with a 15 October application deadline, their performance in admissions tests.

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