GCSEs 2021: DfE delay a real challenge, reports Ofsted

Watchdog says lack of clarity on exams was highlighted as a problem by almost all secondary schools it spoke to last month
15th December 2020, 6:08am
John Roberts

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GCSEs 2021: DfE delay a real challenge, reports Ofsted

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/gcses-2021-dfe-delay-real-challenge-reports-ofsted
The Wait For A Clarification On Exams Was A Challenge For Secondary Schools Last Month, Ofsted Has Reported.

The wait for answers from the government on how exams and assessments will be run next year caused "anxiety" for teachers and pupils, according to a major new Ofsted report.

The inspectorate has revealed this issue was raised by "almost all" the secondary schools it visited last month, before the Department for Education and Ofqual had announced their plans for how exams would be run.

Primary and secondary leaders also raised concerns with Ofsted about whether pupils are prepared for Sats and exams next summer.


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Ofsted's findings are set out in a new report on its findings from visits to schools in November - most of which were carried out remotely during the national lockdown.

The watchdog has this term been checking how pupils have been supported to return to full-time education since September.

Its report highlights the wait schools have faced for clarity on exams and assessments as being a "challenge" for schools.

Ofqual's acting chief regulator Dame Glenys Stacey had indicated that such plans would be produced in November. However, they were not published until earlier this month.

Ofsted's report from its visits to schools in November says: "Many secondary school leaders expressed concern over the time available to cover the content and prepare pupils ahead of national examinations next summer.

"Almost all commented that waiting for final clarification on the examination/assessment process is creating a real challenge. Some said that the combination of these factors was causing anxiety for pupils and staff."

Ofsted also reports that school leaders have told inspectors that pupils in Years 11, 12 and 13 were particularly anxious about the uncertainty over exams.

The report is based on Ofsted's 297 interim visits to schools from 2-24 November.

This was before the Department for Education's announcement earlier this month about exams and national assessments.

This included plans for students taking GCSE and A-level exams next year to be awarded generous grades in line with those awarded in 2020 to compensate for the disruption to their schooling caused by the pandemic.

The new Ofsted report also reveals a mixed picture in primary schools' views over next year's standard assessment tests.

It says: "Some primary school leaders said that they felt they would be able to cover the required content ahead of national assessments for Year 6 next year.

"Many, however, referred to challenges with covering content in the usual depth, especially if there were blocks of time where bubbles of Year 6 pupils were self-isolating."

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