Grading fiasco: How DfE bounced Ofqual into mocks plan

DfE publicly committed itself to its controversial decision to bring mocks into this summer’s grading process, as an Ofqual meeting to discuss the issue continued
22nd October 2020, 11:53am

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Grading fiasco: How DfE bounced Ofqual into mocks plan

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/grading-fiasco-how-dfe-bounced-ofqual-mocks-plan
Exams 2

Ofqual board minutes published today show that the watchdog had misgivings about a Department for Education plan to use mocks as part of exam grading this summer as soon as it heard about it.

But the DfE went ahead and announced it anyway before Ofqual's discussions on the plan that evening had concluded, the papers reveal.

On 11 August, two days before A-level results day and the day of Scotland's grading U-turn, the DfE had sent a draft press release to Ofqual. It referenced the "triple lock" process - a new development in the plans for England.


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In minutes from the Ofqual meeting at 8.45 pm that evening, it is described how, under "triple lock", "students would be able to accept their calculated grade, appeal to receive their mock results or sit the autumn exams".

"The board were informed that Ofqual had advised DfE that we had not consulted on students receiving their mock result following appeal and the board had not as yet considered or agreed the proposal; the DfE advised that they would proceed with the press statement," the minutes say.

"The board were informed that DfE had said it would be for Ofqual to advise what a valid mock process was," the minutes add.

During the meeting, Ofqual's board acknowledged the difficult position the DfE was in but said it felt the risks associated with the policy would be in tension with its independence as a regulator.

It noted that some key stakeholders had noted the "political pressure" the regulator was under and had spoken out in support of Ofqual.

There was then a short break in the meeting during which Sally Collier, then chief regulator, spoke with Gavin Williamson and reported back that the education secretary was "concerned that this issue was resolved quickly".

And while the meeting was going on, "an embargoed government press statement had just been received, and was widely reported in the media while this meeting was still in session", the minutes say.

At the end of the meeting, the board was split over the proposal, with one member not in support while another would not support it unless clear criteria had been established, such as the mock having been held in exam conditions. 

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