Teachers told to check authenticity of GCSE and A-level students' work

Exam boards’ warning comes amid concerns about private tutors’ input and parental pressure on teachers

Examination boards are urging teachers to check the authenticity of their pupils’ work before awarding their GCSE and A-level grades this summer amid concerns that some may award higher grades as a result of “inappropriate” support from private tutors or pressure from parents.

The boards warned that students seeking to “gain an unfair advantage” by submitting fabricated evidence or plagiarised work, or putting undue pressure on their teachers, would count as malpractice and lead to their results being voided.

guidance from the Joint Council on Qualifications (JCQ) applies to all qualifications regulated by England’s examinations watchdog, 不合格, and sets out how teachers and exam centres should assess GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications this summer after exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It follows concerns from school leaders that teachers are being aggressively lobbied by “parents with pointy elbows and lawyer friends” to boost their children’s grades this summer.

According to the document, students will be graded based on their teachers’ assessment of their knowledge and skills. However this will not be “a formulaic calculation” judged against a national standard as some pupils have received more teaching than others during the pandemic, while others have experienced bereavement and some of those with special needs have not received appropriate adjustments.

Teachers should use a student’s existing work, although they will also be provided with additional questions which may be used where evidence is lacking. Decisions about potential must not be a factor in the student’s grades, the document warns.

The guidance further recommends that schools analyse previous cohorts’ results to determine whether there is any divergence with this year’s results after they have been calculated. In the event of significant variation, schools are encouraged to write to the exam boards explaining the reasons.

然而, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, Paul Whiteman, said the circumstances of the pandemic might render such comparisons unreliable.

“It is not helpful to make direct comparisons to results in years when exams have taken place. Everyone working with young people should be wary of devaluing their efforts and achievements,” Whiteman said.

The JCQ guidance also asks that schools break down historical comparisons by gender, ethnicity, socio-economic circumstances and other protected characteristics to look for evidence of bias.

This follows Ofqual guidance published on Wednesday which urged teachers to “promote fairness and minimise bias” in a document identifying several types of unconscious bias that could cloud teachers’ judgment, including confirmation bias, halo effects and affinity bias.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the processes outlined in the latest guidance would entail a “huge amount of additional work” for school leaders and teachers when they were already under strain.

Barton said: “It is frustrating that schools and colleges have had to wait for detailed guidance on awarding grades for nearly three months since the education secretary cancelled exams and promised that contingency arrangements just needed some fine-tuning.

“然而, the guidance itself is helpful and comprehensive, and probably represents the fairest way of assessing students this summer in difficult circumstances.”