Qualification and Grade Update

Initial guidance on the process for assessing grades for A Level/ GCSE, Vocational and Technical (including Functional Skills) qualifications has now been released.

Parents/carers and students studying at Truro and Penwith College should read this information thoroughly. The Department for Education has also provided infographics which supplement this information and can be read below.

Initial Information on Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) for Parents/Carers and Students for A level and GCSE

On 4 January 2021, the Prime Minister announced that exams in summer 2021 could not go ahead as planned. A consultation was launched on alternative arrangements, which has now concluded, with the results analysed. In summer 2021, exam boards will ask the college to generate, for each subject, Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) for our students entered for A level, AS level, GCSE and EPQ. Students studying GCSE maths and/or English will also sit Functional Skills as this qualification can be used for progression. These exams will be taking place on site, following public health measures.

Specific guidance is expected from exam boards by the end of March, and this information will provide a clearer picture of how these grades will be generated. We already know that TAGs will be based on a range of evidence completed as part of the course which help to demonstrate a student’s performance in each of their subjects. All students have completed a range of assessments throughout the time they have been studying their courses which may contribute to the body of evidence required to determine a grade. However, further assessment opportunities will also be provided both before and after Easter within the classroom, which may also be used as evidence to support students’ grades. Subject lecturers will make it clear to all students what assessments will take place over the next few weeks and will continue to support students to prepare for these fully before they take place. The TAG will be a holistic decision, with lecturers using their professional judgement to balance the full range of evidence available for each student.

The grades that will be submitted to exam boards must reflect a fair, reasonable and carefully considered judgement of the student’s performance across a range of evidence, on the curriculum content that they have been taught. All staff will receive detailed guidance on the requirements of grading once it is available, with specific emphasis on the need for objectivity in making judgements. All TAGs will be approved by at least two lecturers - one to be the student’s lecturer and the other to be the course leader or Deputy/Programme Team Leader as appropriate. Exam boards will provide guidance on internal and external quality assurance measures and we will ensure all guidance is fully met, with the Senior Management Team fully involved in these processes working alongside PTLs, DTLs and lecturing staff.

We will be required to retain evidence of assessments that are used to support TAG judgements. For this reason, we are asking all students to gather previously assessed work (both paper-based and electronic) into a separate folder at home and to keep this safe for the time being. Once we have received further guidance, each course will decide which pieces of assessment will support grading decisions, where lecturers are confident the assessment represents the learners own work. Lecturers will then ask for specific pieces to be brought into college to be stored alongside future assessments (electronic evidence can be printed at college if required). This work may be scrutinised by the exam boards when they conduct their quality assurance checks and will be required if a student wishes to appeal their result.

Students will continue to be taught their courses to help to prepare them fully for their next steps. Through the high-quality remote delivery of lessons that has been on offer throughout each lockdown, most students at Truro and Penwith have been taught a full curriculum. However, where content is missing for individuals or groups of learners, assessment will be based on content that has been covered successfully. All students will also be encouraged to complete their coursework (Non-Exam Assessment - NEA) where applicable as this will also contribute to the evidence base.

As required, the college will seek to ensure that it is no easier or harder for a student to achieve a particular grade this year compared to previous years. We are confident that in following the guidance from exam boards to produce TAGs, results at Truro and Penwith will remain comparable to previous years’ outstanding outcomes.

We look forward to ‘seeing’ as many people as possible during the upcoming virtual progress evenings which take place on Thursday 25th March for first years and Tuesday 30th March for second year students. We hope that you will be able to take this opportunity to discuss areas that are going well and areas to work on – but please be aware that lecturers will not be able to discuss students’ TAGs during the evening as these will not be decided until the summer. Thank you for your understanding in this matter and also for the way in which students and parents/carers continue to work with us to support continued learning in these challenging circumstances.

Initial Information for Parents/Carers and Students for Vocational and Technical Qualifications including Functional Skills

On 4 January 2021, the Prime Minister announced that exams in summer 2021 could not go ahead as planned. A consultation was launched on alternative arrangements, which has now concluded, with the results analysed. Further details should be released by the end of March from Awarding Organisations to provide more clarity to each course.

Three main approaches will be taken to the award of Vocational and Technical Qualifications:

Group 1 – Level 3 Foundation and Extended Diplomas, Progression 2 Courses, T levels, BTEC, UAL, RSL, Cambridge Nationals and Technicals

  • This group includes qualifications most similar to GCSEs, AS and A levels that are used for progression to further or higher education. Internal assessment will continue, and this is important in supporting continued learning, as well as providing evidence to inform results awarded through alternative arrangements. Exams have been cancelled and grades for these components will be awarded using similar arrangements to GCSEs and A levels i.e. Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs).
  • TAGs will be based on the lecturer’s professional judgement of the student’s performance, considering a range of assessment evidence to determine the grade. This will include evidence already completed and further assessment opportunities will also be made available.

Group 2 – Other occupational courses not included above - Construction, Motor Vehicle, Hair and Beauty, Hospitality and Catering, AAT etc.

  • The second group are qualifications primarily used to enter directly into employment. Exams or assessments should continue where they are critical to demonstrate occupational or professional competence and these will be delivered in line with public health measures.

Group 3 – Functional Skills

  • The Department for Education decided that exams should go ahead for Functional Skills qualifications and these will be delivered in line with public health measures.

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Students on all courses will continue to be taught to help to prepare them fully for their next steps. When more information becomes available for each course this will be explained to students via their tutor and lecturers.

We look forward to ‘seeing’ as many people as possible during the upcoming virtual progress evenings which take place on Thursday 25th March for first years and Tuesday 30th March for second year students. We hope that you will be able to take this opportunity to discuss areas that are going well and areas to work on – but please be aware that lecturers will not be able to discuss students’ TAGs during the evening as these will not be decided until the summer. Thank you for your understanding in this matter and also for the way in which students and parents/carers continue to work with us to support continued learning in these challenging circumstances.

Initial Information for Parents/Carers and Students on the assessment of IB students after the cancellation of exams

On February 15th 2021, the IB announced that it had taken the decision to cancel examinations in the UK, following discussions with Ofqual. The IB now intend to use an established ‘non-exam’ route to award our students’ final grades which will use a combination of the students’ coursework and their IB predicted grades. However, this route has not yet been confirmed by Ofqual for use in the UK and we will therefore have to await further guidance on this.

We look forward to ‘seeing’ as many people as possible during the upcoming virtual progress evenings which take place on Thursday 25th March for first years and Tuesday 30th March for second year students. We hope that you will be able to take this opportunity to discuss how your son/daughter has progressed this term – but please be aware that lecturers will not be able to discuss students’ predicted grades during the evening. Thank you for your understanding in this matter and also for the way in which students and parents/carers continue to work with us to support continued learning in these challenging circumstances.