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Assessments: Equality

Question for Department for Education

UIN 35798, tabled on 19 July 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department is having with Ofqual on the impact of unconscious bias on teacher determined exam grades for (a) GCSE, (b) A-Level and (c) BTEC students.

Answered on

23 July 2021

This Government is committed to maximising fairness for all pupils receiving qualifications this summer, no matter their background.

Following discussions with Ofqual, guidance was issued to centres on making objective judgements to support teachers in awarding GCSE, A level, BTEC and vocational and technical qualifications in 2021. It was designed to help teachers make their judgements as objectively as possible, providing guidance around basing decisions on evidence, being aware of unconscious effects on objectivity, using other evidence to identify possible bias and reviewing judgements with others. Following the steps outlined in Ofqual’s guidance helps a school or college assure itself that it has maximised objectivity and avoided bias in its judgments.

Awarding organisations have also produced their own guidance on assessing grades in 2021, including information about the evidence schools and colleges need to use to produce their teacher assessed grade and what the expectations are for different grades.

All centres are required to establish how they will ensure objectivity in their centre policies which will be reviewed by exam boards. Schools, colleges, exam boards and awarding organisations will also undertake rigorous internal and external quality assurance checks to help identify any errors or instances of malpractice in their grading, maximising fairness for all pupils this summer.

Finally, an appeals system has been put in place as a safety net to correct any errors that were not identified earlier in the grading process. Pupils can, therefore, have confidence in the grades awarded this summer.

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