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Assessments: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 176054, tabled on 25 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support private candidates for examinations during the summer 2021 examination season.

Answered on

13 April 2021

Given the ongoing disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, we announced in January that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead as planned this summer.

The Department and Ofqual have ensured that there is a clear and accessible route for private candidates to receive a grade this year at the same time as other candidates. Private candidates can work with a centre to be assessed on a range of evidence, which could include evidence from an established educational provider and the board-provided assessment materials. These candidates should have the same opportunity as other students to be assessed on what they were taught. Centres can conduct assessments remotely if needed. This guidance includes information for centres about assessing private candidates, taking into account their different circumstances: https://www.jcq.org.uk/summer-2021-arrangements/.

The Department is working with the sector to ensure there are enough centres available to support private candidates. The Joint Council for Qualifications have published a list of available centres: https://www.jcq.org.uk/private-candidates-summer-2021/, giving private candidates the opportunity to find a centre at a similar cost to a normal year. The exam boards have committed that private candidates will not be charged late fees if entries are received by 26 April.

To support centres with the additional requirements of assessing private candidates this year, and avoid the cost being passed on to candidates, we are providing a grant for centres to claim £200 per private candidate entry. Guidance on the grant is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/private-candidate-support-grant-information-for-exam-centres/private-candidate-support-grant. The Government is encouraging all available exams centres to sign up to help these candidates achieve their qualifications in this exceptional year.

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