Cardinal Heenan

Catholic High School

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  3. Update on Grading Arrangements in Summer 2021

Update on Grading Arrangements in Summer 2021

16 March 2021 (by Mark Burton (M.Burton))

Dear Parent/Guardian

Update on Grading Arrangements in Summer 2021 – Evidence Sources and Assessment Timetable I write to update you on the arrangements for assessing grades this summer. Before I turn to the detail of this, I am keen to share with you how incredibly impressed all of our school staff have been with our Year 11’s approach on their return to in-person learning. They have been focused and attentive, hardworking and diligent. It is clear from every interaction that our young people want to do well, and they are doing all that they can to achieve this. I hope that the information that I share below will help to answer some of the questions that you must have around how their grades will be worked out this year.

As you know, the government published the outcome of their consultation on awarding grades this summer on 25 February. It is important to note that we are still awaiting final guidance from Ofqual on the details of how this should work, as well as supporting materials from the exam boards. These are expected by the end of March. We are conscious that many of our students are craving certainty and are keen to know the details of how their grades will be calculated. Until these arrangements are finalized by Ofqual it is important to bear in mind that we may need to make some adjustments to our plans.

However, what was clear from the information provided so far is that students grades should be based on a range of evidence sources. We are keen to stress to our students that their grades will not be based on any individual teachers’ subjective opinion of them or their potential, but rather on objective evidence of what they know, understand and can do. Below I outline some of the principles underlying our approach to identifying these evidence sources.

- To ensure there is a broad basis of evidence, each subject will identify 4-6 pieces of evidence that best reflect what students’ know, understand and can do in the subject area. These assessments can have been completed before Lockdown 2021, or to be completed by students on their return to school in March 2021.

- The curriculum leader of each individual subject will be asked to identify the most appropriate evidence in their subject. This means that assessment is tailored to the differing needs of differing subjects. This also allows us to take into account which content has and has not been taught, such that students are only assessed on what they have had a reasonable opportunity to learn.

- Assessment will be as close to normal as possible. This is because the exams and NEA (including mark schemes etc.) created by the exam boards are carefully constructed to cover a balance of content, skills and difficulty.Furthermore, by using papers created externally we remove any unconscious bias in the types of questions set.

- Given that our students have not sat mock exams they do not have experience of an intensive 2-3 week period of extended, varying exams covering the content of full GCSES. As such, most subjects will take a modular approach to future assessments, with assessments being spread over an eight-week period. This will allow students to carefully focus their revision.

- All future assessments will be sat in classrooms during curriculum time. This is to prevent one subject from impinging on the teaching and learning time in another, thereby allowing students to continue to learn for as long as possible. It also removes the need for the full year group to be gathered together in the same space.

- Assessments have been carefully timetabled to ensure that students do not sit more than two assessments on any given day (except for the last day of the assessment period). This is to reduce students’ anxiety. Assessments have been spread out over the maximum possible amount of time, again to reduce pressure on
students.

- Future assessments will be marked across the department, rather than by classroom teachers. This is to reduce unconscious bias, and because (unlike in normal school assessment) the purpose of these assessments is as a summative assessment of what students know, understand and can do, rather than to improve learning.

- Wherever possible exam board mark schemes will be used. To increase accuracy and consistency of marking, pre-marking standardization and post-marking moderation will be led by the curriculum leader. Where there
is only a single subject specialist in the school, we will call upon the support of colleagues within our local
networks (particularly the COLDs network).

-Where a subject chooses to use evidence generated before Lockdown 2021 they will consider:
  -The original purpose of the assessment and whether this will impact on how students prepared for and approached the assessment.
  -Whether students will have improved since the assessment was completed, and, if so, how this can be accounted for.

- For all future assessments, students entitled to access arrangements (such as extra time, reader, scribe and prompter) will be given access to this provision and encouraged to take this. This will be coordinated by our Exams Officer to ensure this is consistently applied. Mrs Powell-Wiffen (our SENDCo) will be in touch with the parents/guardians of students who this applies to in the coming days. If you believe your child is entitled to special exams access arrangements and you do not hear from her soon, please do get in touch with us.

- Teachers and Curriculum Leaders have been working hard to identify these evidence sources, and today we were able to share with students a timetable of future assessments. I encourage you to review this with your child.

Please be aware that this is a general timetable that includes all assessments on it; your child will only complete assessments in the subjects that they are studying. Furthermore, where a subject is taught at different times (History, Geography, Business Studies, D&T, RE and Spanish) students will only sit the assessment in their lesson time (this can be identified by cross-referencing with your child’s timetable).

In the coming weeks I will be able to share with you details of the evidence sources to be used in each subject, including evidence from before lockdown and that gained from non-examined assessments (including coursework and practical work).

I do hope that this information helps to address some of the questions that you will have about your child’s assessment this summer. We believe that our system is robust and fair. Our students will only be assessed on the content that they have been taught, in a way that they have been preparing for throughout the course. By drawing on resources provided by the exam board and delivering these in a modular way we are able to ensure our students’ grades stand up to those achieved by students in previous years, whilst also taking into account how their experience has been different to normal.

As ever, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions (ept@cardinalheenan.com)

Best wishes,

Ms E Stockton-Pitt
Senior Assistant Headteacher – Quality of Education