Coronavirus: GCSE grading plan 'unfair', say pupils

Most students do not think teacher assessments for GCSEs and A levels will give them fair grades, a poll shows

Catherine Lough

Coronavirus: Most GCSE and A-level students are worried that they won't get a fair grade this year, a poll shows

Nearly two out of three GCSE and A-level candidates responding to a snap poll have revealed they are concerned about the grading process being used instead of this summer's cancelled exams. 

On Friday, the website The Student Room asked candidates: "Regarding Ofqual's latest update, do you think you will be given a fair grade this summer?"

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The majority of the more than 750 students who responded said they felt the grades would not be fair, with 65.8 per cent replying "no" and the remaining 34.2 per cent stating that grades would be fair.

Coronavirus: The impact of exam cancellations

The poll was carried out after the publication of new guidance on how this summer's grades would be awarded from Ofqual, with grades based on a rank order of pupils at each grade in every school, along with teacher assessment and other data.

student room survey

Some students expressed worries over how their teachers would be able to assess their attainment if they had had a lot of staff turnover at their schools.

“I have had so many maths teachers and my main worry is how will they judge me fairly when I have to keep adapting to their different ways of teaching," one pupil said.

"My last teacher I ever had has only known me for a month, so how will she give me the grades she thinks I deserve? Yes, it’s easy to say 'just revise', but people are uncertain at these times and it’s very stressful."

Others were uncertain about the timetabling for exams in the autumn term – candidates will be given the option to sit GCSEs or A levels then if they are unhappy with their calculated grade.

"I know I should be doing work, but I don't know what – feels like I'm wasting time," one candidate wrote.

"I would prepare for A levels, but I don't even know what I'm doing any more (other than geography), [because] it might depend on the grades I get.

"That's another thing I'm confused about, if we were to 'resit' an exam, how would that overlap A levels in September, and would we be allowed to change options after we get our grades?"

An Ofqual spokesperson said: "In an unprecedented situation such as this, where students are unable to take exams, teachers are best placed to judge the likely performance of their students at the end of the course.

"Teachers know their students well and are highly experienced in making assessment judgements. There is evidence to show that teachers can rank order their students with a high degree of accuracy. 

"We have provided clear guidance to schools and colleges on the grading and rank-ordering process to help teachers in different schools take a common approach to assessing their students.

"As the regulator, we will do everything we can to ensure that grades are fair, and as comparable as possible between schools and over time. All grades submitted by teachers will go through an external standardisation process developed by Ofqual and the exam boards."


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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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