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

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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."

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