GCSEs 2021: Gove points towards teacher assessment

But Cabinet Office minister suggests 'delicate' issue of whether teacher assessments are moderated is still undecided
5th January 2021, 11:30am
Catherine Lough

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GCSEs 2021: Gove points towards teacher assessment

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/gcses-2021-gove-points-towards-teacher-assessment
Gcses & A Levels 2021: Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove Has Indicated That Teacher Assessment Will Be Used To Award Grades

Michael Gove has suggested that teacher assessment could be used for GCSE and A-level students this year after prime minister Boris Johnson's announcement last night that exams would not be going ahead "as normal"

The Cabinet Office minister and former education secretary confirmed this morning that exams were cancelled and suggested that alternative arrangements for awarding grades the summer could include teacher assessment.

But Mr Gove indicated that the "delicate" issue of whether teachers' assessments should be moderated - last year this involved Ofqual's controversial algorithm - and by whom was still undecided.

Meanwhile, heads are not convinced that all exams will be cancelled and the Conservative chair of the Commons Education Select Committee thinks that those in core subjects might survive.


Coronavirus: Ministers' handling of Covid blamed for school closures

Exams: GCSE and A-level 2021 exams won't happen 'as normal'

Related: All schools moving online until half-term, says Johnson

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Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme whether he could clarify that exams would not be going ahead, Mr Gove said: "Yes...I know how hard students across the country in Years 11 and 13 have been working.

"We will be putting in place alternative arrangements in order to make sure that the hard work that students have put in to acquire knowledge and to develop their skills is appropriately assessed, recognised and awarded," he added.

Asked whether this involved some kind of testing or a complete move towards teacher assessments, Mr Gove said: "Well, the education secretary is talking to the exam regulator, Ofqual, in order to make sure that we can have the best and most effective method of assessment.

GCSEs and A levels 2021: The 'delicate' issue of grade moderation

"Again, we touched earlier on the fact that it's children often from the most disadvantaged circumstances who have suffered most as a result of disruption to classroom teaching, and what we want to do is make sure that the method of assessment that we have is as fair as possible and takes into account the effect the disruption has had."

The presenter said: "It sounds as if there might well be still some form of testing involved."

Mr Gove replied: "Well, again one of the things about assessment is that it necessarily involves those students doing particular tasks which teachers will assess and whether or not they're moderated in a particular fashion by a particular awarding bodies or by others is a delicate process.

"As we know from last year, it's important to make sure that we have a fair system, and that relies on making sure that we have appropriate methods of assessing the knowledge and skills the children have acquired."

Robert Halfon, chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, said: "I understand it's going to be announced tomorrow on what is going to happen with exams and it looks like we're either going to move to some kind of centre-assessed grades or there may be an option of possibly doing exams in the core subjects of maths and English."

Commenting on the fact that ministers had previously insisted exams would go ahead, the Conservative MP added: "Again parents, teachers, support staff and children have been marched up to the top of the hill, only to be marched down again, and enormous pressure has been put on them."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he thought exams would still be going ahead.

He told BBC's Breakfast: "I think what will happen with the prime minister's announcement is people will have heard what people wanted to hear.

"What I heard was it would not be fair to continue with the current arrangements.

"I am sure what that did was give some wriggle room to say that maybe all exams couldn't run, that would be unthinkable, but maybe there could be some modification to exams."

In a statement on social media, exams regulator Ofqual said: "We know how difficult this must be for students, teachers and lecturers. We wish at all costs to avoid arrangements for this summer's GCSEs, A levels and VTQs inflicting further disadvantage on students.

"We are considering a number of options to ensure the fairest possible outcome in the circumstances. We will update as soon as we can."

"We know how difficult this must be for students, teachers and lecturers. We wish at all costs to avoid arrangements for this summer's GCSEs, A levels and VTQs inflicting further disadvantage on students. 1/2

- Ofqual (@ofqual) January 5, 2021

"We are considering a number of options to ensure the fairest possible outcome in the circumstances. We will update as soon as we can. 2/2

- Ofqual (@ofqual) January 5, 2021

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