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Question for Department for Education

UIN HL2597, tabled on 9 September 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether consideration of summer term born children was a factor used in the GCSE and A Level teacher-assessed examinations.

Answered on

24 September 2021

This year, pupils and students were awarded grades determined by their teachers. Teacher assessed grades allowed results to be based on the knowledge students acquired as a result of what they had been taught, recognising the variability in teaching that some young people experienced.

As is the case in years in which exams have gone ahead, students’ grades this year were not adjusted to take account of their birthday.

Awarding organisations provided assessment materials, guidance, and training to support centres to make fair, consistent, and evidence-based decisions which are without bias. Ofqual also published information for centres about making objective judgements this year, available here: Centres set out how they would ensure objectivity in their centre policies, which were then reviewed by exam boards. Schools, colleges, and exam boards also undertook internal and external checks to help maximise fairness for students, no matter their background.

Where students required reasonable adjustments and access arrangements, these should also have been in place when evidence was generated. Where they were not, centres should have taken that into account when coming to their judgement.

Teachers, schools and colleges did an excellent job in using their collective experience to assess students in 2021. These grades reflect students’ hard work in a hugely challenging year.

Whatever month of the year a child is born, schools are dedicated to providing for the needs of each child to help prepare them for a successful education. Teachers understand that children have different starting points when beginning school and are trained to adapt their teaching to suit an individual child’s strengths and needs and provide extra support where necessary. Despite this, no child is required to start school until they reach compulsory school age, which for a summer born child is a full academic year after they could first have been admitted to school.