Grades farce as pupils can see questions in advance

Grades farce as pupils can see questions in advance: Exams regulator is branded ‘a joke’ after agreeing to make questions and marking schemes available online

  • Students to access mini-assessments that teachers can use to help grade them
  • Officials insist evaluations should be viewed more like coursework than exams
  • It comes as ministers warned against ‘punishing’ families by shortening holidays 

A-level and GCSE pupils will get advance sight of mini-assessments that teachers can use to help grade them, officials said yesterday.

Exams regulator Ofqual was branded ‘a joke’ after saying the questions and marking schemes will be made available online.

It comes as ministers were yesterday warned against ‘punishing’ families by shortening summer holidays.

All exams are cancelled this summer because of the pandemic, with teachers awarding grades instead

Head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman said children ‘need time with grandparents and friends’ this summer and forcing them to spend more time inside may backfire after lockdown.

Fears grew yesterday that the mini-assessments would be made redundant if pupils over-prepare using the internet and parents. But officials said the evaluations were never supposed to be like exams and should be viewed more like coursework.

All exams are cancelled this summer because of the pandemic, with teachers awarding grades instead.

The mini-assessments, set by the usual exam boards, are one option that teachers can use to determine grades. The assessments will be taken at a time of teachers’ choosing.

In a webinar yesterday, Ofqual said students would have advance sight of the tasks and mark schemes after the Easter holidays, while teachers would have access at the end of March. Ofqual said this was to prevent cramming over the break.

Teachers and experts condemned the policy. David James, deputy head of an independent school, said it was ‘unbelievable if true’.

And Sam Freedman, ex-adviser to Michael Gove, said the ‘whole thing is a car crash’. Paul Caden, head of science at Horsforth School in Leeds, said: ‘What? Please tell me this is a joke.’ The Mathematical Association said the decision could embed disadvantage.

An Ofqual spokesman said: ‘A wide range of questions will be made available..while students will have access to them all in advance, they will not know which ones if any… their school or college will use.’ The Department for Education was contacted for comment.

Head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman (pictured) said children ‘need time with grandparents and friends’ this summer and forcing them to spend more time inside may backfire after lockdown

Meanwhile, a week after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson indicated he was considering changing the dates of the summer holidays to help pupils catch up, Ofsted boss Mrs Spielman warned of an ‘epidemic of demotivated children’ thanks to lockdown.

The chief inspector of schools told an online conference of the Association of School and College Leaders that pupils ‘haven’t been engaging’ because of fatigue with online learning.

Mrs Spielman said: ‘Extensions to schooling will work well only if they’re supported by families so that they don’t feel like a punishment for children or for their parents.’

It is understood that big changes such as moving summer holiday dates would probably not take place until at least next year.

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