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GCE A-level and GCSE: Assessments

Question for Department for Education

UIN 179073, tabled on 12 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 23 March 2021 to Question 168889, on GCE A-level and GCSE: Assessments, what specific guidance his Department has issued to schools and colleges on taking into account the mitigating circumstances faced by young carers when determining GCSE and A level grades.

Answered on

19 April 2021

The Department is committed to ensuring that all those who were due to take exams in 2021 have the best possible chance to show what they know and can do, enabling them to progress to the next stage of their education, training, or employment, no matter their background.

Following the Department’s response on 23 March 2021, the Joint Council for Qualifications has published guidance on the determination of grades in Summer 2021: https://www.jcq.org.uk/summer-2021-arrangements/. As the guidance states, the range of evidence teachers can use to determine the grades of their pupils is flexible and they should only be assessed on what they have been taught.

Mitigating circumstances and access to reasonable adjustments should be taken into account by teachers when deciding which evidence to use, with flexibility to substitute or discount evidence. Where a pupil’s performance in assessments is impaired through an event outside of the pupil’s control and may have affected their performance in assessments which will be used to determine a grade, this should be taken into account by teachers. Centres must be satisfied that the issue or event has had, or is reasonably likely to have had, a material effect on a pupil’s ability to demonstrate their normal level of attainment in an assessment. Pupils must be reminded to raise any mitigating circumstances which warrant special consideration as soon as possible, ideally at the time of the assessment and prior to the submission of the teacher assessed grade.

We want to make sure that young carers get the support they need and are able to take advantage of opportunities beyond their caring responsibilities. The 'Schools Coronavirus (COVID-19) Operational Guidance' recognises that some young people, including some young carers, might feel anxious about attending school. The Government has published guidance for both schools and local authorities on how best to support families and protect vulnerable children during COVID-19, alongside guidance for young people with caring responsibilities, which includes information on how and where they can get help and support.

We remain committed to supporting young carers, and will continue to work closely with schools, stakeholders, care organisations and the wider sector. The Government continues to fund projects to support vulnerable children and young people whose usual support networks have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, including young carers as a target group. The provision includes a range of support, including online counselling and helping children and young people stay connected with school.