GCSEs 2022: Ofqual undecided on 'full-fat exams' return

'Some easement' might be needed to take learning loss into account when exams return,' says Ofqual chief

Catherine Lough

GCSEs and A levels 2022: Ofqual undecided on the return of 'full-fat' exams

It is undecided whether A levels and GCSEs will return in their usual format in 2022, Ofqual's interim chief regulator has said.

In an interview with the i newspaper, Simon Lebus said: "It’s not yet decided whether we will be back to full-fat exams, as it were."


GCSEs 2021: Teachers relieved of appeals burden

Assessment: Teacher-assessed grades get green light

Results: 'Excessive grade inflation' warning


“Next year’s cohort would have suffered quite a lot of disruption and, indeed, the A-level students would never have sat public exams before," Mr Lebus said. 

He added that it was “still under discussion exactly what is going to happen next year”.

Mr Lebus said Ofqual was investigating different options about what should happen in 2022.

GCSEs and A levels 2022: Exam plans 'still under discussion'

“Obviously, a lot of it is going to be dependent on the policy determination within the Department of Education and the secretary of state’s views,” he added.

He said that while there was an appetite for exams to return, it was also recognised that the return of exams must be considered in the context of learning loss and disruption caused by the pandemic. 

Mr Lebus said that “some easement” might be needed to take learning loss into account when exams returned. 

And he said that this summer's results could also influence plans for next year.

“Another big factor, actually, that’s going to be interesting is going to be what the outcomes are this year, and that certainly may impact any plan Bs or plan Cs if there’s another public health crisis and we have to revert to using teacher assessment," he said.

And Mr Lebus added that grade inflation may be inevitable because of the use of teacher assessment this year.

"Clearly it’s not going to be as consistent as it would be if we were using externally set exams in the normal way, because it’s not that sort of exercise,” he said, with grades likely to look "a bit more generous" than normal.

He added that there were potential problems with the process for 2021.

“I’ve been in public exams since 2002 and I’ve never known a summer without a degree of anxiety, so I’ve got my normal level of anxiety this year,” he said. 

“Clearly there are a lot of moving parts, and there are all sorts of things that could go wrong this summer, but we go into it much better prepared than we were last year.”

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

Latest stories