The Design and Technology Association’s response to Ofqual announcement on awarding GCSE and A Level grades this summer

Published 3rd April 2020

Following the government’s March 18th announcement that this summer’s public examinations were to be cancelled due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 virus, Ofqual worked with headteachers, awarding bodies and professional subject associations to consult on how to manage a cohort of grades within what are clearly unprecedented circumstances. 

I should say that I feel that the Association was given an opportunity to have an input into how this is managed, and I do believe that this input was listened to.

Ofqual today announced its decision on how grades are to be awarded

Teachers are being asked to provide centre assessment grades for their students. These should be fair, objective and carefully considered judgements of the grades schools and colleges believe their students would have been most likely to achieve if they had sat their exams, and should take into account the full range of available evidence, this evidence to be taken from:

  • classwork
  • bookwork
  • any participation in performances in subjects such as music, drama or PE
  • any non-exam assessment – whether or not complete
  • the results of any assignments or mock examinations
  • previous examination results – for example, for any re-sitting students or those with relevant AS qualifications
  • any other records of student performance over the course of study

Teachers are to rank students in each subject within each grade. E.g. for all those students with a centre assessment grade of 5 in Design and Technology GCSE, a rank order where 1 is the most secure/highest attaining student, and so on. This information will be used in the statistical standardisation of centres’ judgements – allowing fine-tuning of the standard applied across all schools and colleges

Each centre will require a declaration from the submitting Head of Centre, this declaration stating that they are confident that a fair and equitable process has taken place in their school to award these grades.

National data will be placed through a process of standardisation using a model being developed with Ofqual (consultation imminent). This model will look at expected grades (based upon existing data), past performance in the subject and within the school and a model will be used to ensure that grades awarded are as fair as possible (note that the schools’ rank order within each grade will not be changed). For this reason, teachers and schools are not to share grades with students or parents until they are publicly awarded.

Awarding Organisations will be contacting schools, colleges and other exam centres after Easter asking them to submit student grades, by a deadline that will be no earlier than 29th May 2020. Grades will be publicly awarded no later than the pre-planned dates but could feasibly be earlier.

It should be noted that Ofqual is working closely with awarding organisations to allow those students who want it, an opportunity to sit an examination in each subject as early in the autumn term as possible.


Ofqual was faced with a near-impossible task and in our opinion, have responded with haste and precision. The emphasis throughout has been on setting a system that is fair, objective and carefully considered. I do not doubt that Ofqual’s first and most important prerogative was to place an emphasis on ensuring that no student was disadvantaged as a result of the current difficult circumstances.

Progress to the next stage of their development, be that sixth form, college, university, apprenticeship, training or work should not be disadvantaged as a result of a situation that was out of each student’s control.

We were consulted as an Association, and as I said at the start of this article, I do believe that this was a genuine consultation. We made some points quite forcefully, and I believe that these points were listened to and have been acted upon.

Teachers know their students best, and within each establishment there should be sufficient teachers and senior leaders with expertise to support new teachers and those who feel pressured by predicting student grades and ranking students given the importance of the judgements being made.

Guidance for Heads of Department and teachers can be found here:

A message to all students expecting grades this summer can be found here:

T. Ryan,
Chief Executive Officer
3rd April 2020

Back to News