Teachers have criticised exam board materials released to help them award GCSE and A level grades this year, saying they are made up of existing past papers that schools already had access to.
Teacher Tom Finn-Kelcey said the materials released represented a "slapdash" approach in repackaging existing past papers as a new series.
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Exam board guidance released by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) says the optional assessment materials "are made up of a mixture of past material (both material already openly published and material currently only available to [schools]) and new material where required".
In the guidance, JCQ says that exam boards' existing assessment materials will be available to schools - such as past papers - along with additional assessment materials from 31 March.
Exam boards such as @AQA & @PearsonEdexcel completely ignore @JCQcic guidelines (p30) and package up past papers as their “3 new exam series” materials. Thanks a bunch- lazy and unprofessional. The slapdash approach to this year’s exams just keeps getting worse..... @tes— Tom Finn-Kelcey (@TFinnKelcey) March 31, 2021
But teachers have described the released optional materials - all based on past papers - as "shocking" and have expressed frustration over waiting "so long" for something they already had.
Head of physics Matthew Benyohai commented that he could have made the materials himself in half an hour.
First batch of exam board assessment materials are out and they're just mini topic tests using past paper questions. I could have made those in 30 mins. Shocking.— Matthew Benyohai (@BenyohaiPhysics) March 31, 2021
Another teacher said: "I have never been more gobsmacked, I honestly don't think it could be worse. A level physics topic test where they have grabbed screenshot of the question and hastily pasted them together. It's truly shocking."
Kind of new to this HOD thing so please tell me if I’ve got this completely wrong... but aren’t the AQA 2021 resources just past papers that we had already? I’ve waited so long for this 😑— Ms Howard (@MsHoward01) March 31, 2021
Wow. Is that it, exam boards?? Months waiting for A Level exam board material only to finally get something way, way (embarrassingly way) less comprehensive than the 75 page resource booklet we produced in just 48 hours before Christmas when we foresaw imminent lockdown ... pic.twitter.com/Tkb87Bc12k— Cathy Savage 💙 (@cathy_savage) March 31, 2021
A level English literature teacher Cathy Savage said: "As far as I can see the only materials offered today are simply on single set texts (Am I missing something??). My gast is well and truly flabbered. We waited months for this? This was a two day admin paper shuffle, tops. Unbelievable."
Just looking at exam board assessment materials. Twitter had prepared me to find lots of previously published exam questions. But why, oh why, are they largely taken from Nov 2020 papers? - the only vaguely secure questions we had!— Helen Skelton (@DrHSkelton) March 31, 2021
Not quite sure why the exam board materials have taken so long to be released to schools, given they are truncated cut and shuts of past papers....much of which schools will have already used in teaching and assessments. Not a great deal of use tbh.....— Rachel Mills (@DocRMills) April 1, 2021
Exam board materials out: past paper questions repackaged as new assessment material and useless grade descriptors. What have we paid exam board for? @ofqual— Alison Hall (@BongosViews) March 31, 2021
And one teacher who spoke to Tes on condition of anonymity pointed out that as specifications are "only a couple of years' old, there's only about three to four papers in existence for each subject anyway.
"It narrows the question range hugely," they said, adding that in a cohort of able pupils they taught "they will prep the hell out of those few questions and smash them. They will all get A or A*".
They added that they would face pressure from parents if they chose not to use the exam board assessment materials, taken from past papers, and devised their own assessments as a school.
A JCQ spokesperson said: "We appreciate that some teachers were expecting new material in the resources provided yesterday, but Ofqual consulted specifically on this point and set out a plan that exam boards have followed.
"Additional assessment materials from exam boards are therefore a mixture of previously published material and material currently only available to schools and colleges.
"They’re an optional part of the range of evidence that can be used to determine a student’s grade this summer.
"We’ll continue to support the teaching community and exams officers with the use of these materials over the coming months."