Schools told by Ofqual to expect 'more variability' in exam results this year

The exams regulator has written to schools as pupils sit new GCSEs and A levels for the first time

Eleanor Busby

News article image

The exams regulator Ofqual has warned schools to prepare for “more variability” in results following the introduction of new GCSEs and A levels this year. 

Sally Collier, chief regulator of Ofqual, has written to schools today to tell them to expect variability in their results this summer following the significant changes to the qualifications. 

This summer, pupils are sitting new GCSEs in English and maths – as well as a number of new AS levels and A levels. 

In her letter, Ms Collier said: "We know that it is normal for schools and colleges to see some variability in their own year-to-year results – either up or down.

"It can be due to many different factors, including differences in the ability mix of the students, different teaching approaches, changes in teaching staff or teaching time.

"We also know that when qualifications change, there is normally more variability in schools and college results, and this is what we expect for new qualifications this year."

Ms Collier told schools that Ofqual will publish more information on this on both results days. 

Mistakes in exam papers

She also used the letter to tell schools that Ofqual is monitoring the actions of exam boards following a series of mistakes in GCSE and A-level papers this summer.

This week, exam boards OCR and AQA both apologised for errors in their exam papers.

Ms Collier said: "We expect all papers to be error-free, but we also recognise that the production of question papers is a complex process which is subject to human error and so mistakes will happen from time to time.

"When errors are not identified before the exam, we expect the exam boards to do everything they can to minimise the impact on students.

"That is our immediate priority, and we are monitoring their actions closely. Once results are issued, we will look carefully at the reasons for the errors that occurred and take action if appropriate."

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and like Tes on Facebook

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

Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

Latest stories

Covid-catch up: What does the research say about what will work best to help pupils catch up on lost learning?

How not to do Covid catch-up in schools

Everyone is talking about ‘catching up’ on the learning lost through lockdown, but the solution is not as simple as sticking on a few hours of extra school time
Zofia Niemtus 7 Mar 2021
Coronavirus: Teachers and pupils are having to clean classrooms themselves because schools can't afford to pay for extra cleaning, warn headteachers

Covid-19 school safety guidance, explained

The government has offered guidance on how to make schools more Covid-secure, but what is the science behind the measures? We ask the experts
Grainne Hallahan 6 Mar 2021