Last reviewed 19 January 2021

An exchange of correspondence between Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Ofqual's Chief Regulator, Simon Lebus, has been published regarding the process to agree alternative arrangements for exams in 2021.

Mr Williamson’s letter, which is available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/951797/Letter_from_Gavin_Williamson_to_Simon_Lebus.pdf, asks Ofqual to consult on alternative arrangements for GCSE, AS and A levels which should involve the awarding of grades based on teacher assessment.

It recognises that students taking vocational, technical and other general qualifications used for progression will have suffered similar levels of disruption and asks Ofqual to also consult on these matters.

Mr Williamson also mentions other general qualifications, such as Core Maths and the International Baccalaureate, and suggest that the approach taken to awarding these qualifications should be similar to that taken for GCSEs and A levels.

“We must ensure the consultation reaches a wide audience and so it should specifically seek the views of teachers, school and college leaders, students and their parents,” the Education Secretary concludes.

In his detailed reply, which can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/951778/SL_to_SOS_2021-01-13.pdf, Mr Lebus confirms that Ofqual is fully committed to doing all it can, including making sure teachers are equipped and making use of awarding organisations’ quality assurance processes, so that students’ results are as fair as possible.

He sets out details of the consultation process which will last for two weeks, given the need to make sure these arrangements are in place quickly.

“It is important that the consultation makes clear to all, especially those who rely on the results to make selection decisions, that overall outcomes this year will likely look different from 2020 and previous years,” Mr Lebus emphasises.