We realise that the uncertainty about GCSE grades is unsettling for students and are sorry that we cannot, at the moment, provide greater clarity than in the answers below. We shall share further information when it becomes available from the government and examination boards.
We anticipate that Exam Boards are going to require the School to use teachers’ judgements and assessments in addition to data such as mock Examination results, coursework (where available), class tests and Teacher assessments. We will continue to assess the level at which students are performing through online lessons until Friday 15th May in order to inform our data that we give to exam boards.
At the moment, we are unable to give more precise details of how our data will be used to calculate grades. We also don’t know details such as the weighting that mock results will be given, so we will continue as usual until we receive guidelines and further instructions from Ofqual and the examination boards.
The School has not yet received further information from Ofqual about the date for the final submission of marks. However, we intend to continue assessing students’ performance until Friday 15th May.
We believe that this will not be possible at the moment. We anticipate that the examination boards will be seeking to establish a means of allocating grades which ensures the integrity of grades across all schools. They will therefore want to be assured that data given by schools has not been pre-challenged by students or parents.
The examination boards have said that they intend to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July.
You can read the government’s information here.
The government has said that GCSEs this year will be “indistinguishable” from other years’ qualifications. So, yes, we believe your future educators and employers will accept these qualifications without question.
Ofqual has indicated that students will be able to make an appeal if they do not believe the correct process has been followed for allocating grades. At the moment, we are not aware of how students can make an appeal but will write to you about this when we have more information.
We understand from Ofqual that if students do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, early in the next academic year.
Ofqual have said that students will also have the chance to sit their GCSE examinations in the summer of 2021.
Fortunately, the School has or will have managed to cover all the GCSE content so students do not need to be taught any topics. However, the School intends to run some revision clinics, mark past papers and provide feedback to students in the run-up to the examinations for any students who wish to take the exams. The cost of this support will be built into the Trinity term fee of 2020.
Yes, the School is providing students now with an opportunity to complete work which can help to inform teachers’ assessment of the level at which they are working. These pieces of work will be used in addition to data already held. We will continue to assess the level at which students are working until the end of GCSE teaching. In doing this, we are trying to create opportunities for students to continue to make improvements and to influence the teachers’ judgement of their ability level.
Our intention is not to catch students out in any way. We are committed to supporting students to keep learning as we know that this has wellbeing benefits in the short and long term and that it will help students make a more successful transition to A-level. If we do not engage our minds in challenging learning, the brain does not grow and develop – in fact, an extended period of cognitive inactivity would have a negative impact on students’ capacity to learn and therefore their future prospects. If students do not engage with their work in online lessons or with assignments that have been set, it could influence teachers’ judgements of their ability1 in a negative manner. Having said that, no one piece of work will determine a GCSE grade.
1 There may be extenuating circumstances that should be taken into account; students may be ill and special consideration may apply. We aim to balance keeping students learning with being fair and taking individual circumstances into account.
Pupils’ health must come first so we ask any pupils who are unwell to contact their Head of House to request an extension.
Yes, we believe that students will still be able to apply for special consideration. However, students should be aware that where special consideration is granted, a very small percentage adjustment is made to marks, even in serious cases. These are the examination boards’ rules. We may rely on data from earlier in the year when the reasons for the application for special consideration may not have applied.
There will be no study leave as examinations have been cancelled. From Monday 18th May you will move on to ‘A-level Foundation Courses’ – see more detail below.
This is ultimately the students’ decision. We understand that students may feel less motivated to revise and we recommend a good break for everyone as well. However, there are real advantages to undertaking a programme of revision, especially if they would still like to influence the grade that will be submitted during the four weeks of teaching at the start of next term. To help with this revision the Past Papers from the after-school revision sessions can be accessed here.
We will also be sharing enrichment activities that you can be getting on with over the holiday – this will be sent to you by Mr Cale. Now is a great time to stretch yourself intellectually with additional reading and give yourself a great start to Year 12.
Yes, this is possible. As yet, we do not know when the date by which data from the School will be required. We will communicate any changes to you about the Y11 programme if we need to make them in the light of announcements from Ofqual.
We intend to run ‘A-level Foundation Courses’. The content of these courses will focus on giving a grounding of skills and wider/background knowledge for A-level courses. This will provide a foundation and springboard from which to move into Year 12.
We will move all Y11 pupils onto the vacated Y13 timetable and will largely deliver lessons in a lecture/seminar format. This might mean that 50% of your lessons would be pre-recorded lectures from a member of staff with reading to do and 50% will be clarifying understanding of ideas with a teacher in a small group. If we are still away from School this would be done on Teams.
We want to prepare students to take the next step beyond GCSEs with the skills and confidence to be able to thrive when meeting the increased challenges that will await in Year 12.
Please read more below.
We will be assigning you to the “A-level Foundation Course” based on the A-level options choices you have already made. However, we will still be applying the A-level progression criteria after results. For this reason, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to stay on the course in Year 12. In order to continue with a particular A-level course at Berkhamsted, you must satisfy the School and subject entrance criteria. Any requests for changes of subject will, as usual, be subject to timetable constraints and set sizes.
Obviously in these unprecedented circumstances with GCSEs not being awarded grades in the same way as normal, transition onto A level courses may not be exactly the same as in previous years, but it is important that we ensure that pupils who start an A level course have shown us that they have the capacity to be able to cope with the subject and ultimately be able to achieve successful A level grades. We will be continuing with A level progression examinations during the latter part of Year 12.
The government has indicated that GCSE results will be released by the “end of July”. This will then allow us to confirm places in Berkhamsted Sixth and whether students have the criteria to study particular A-levels. We anticipate that Ofqual will confirm a date for results in the next weeks and we will communicate this as soon as it is known.
Your expectation should be that you require 43 points to progress to Berkhamsted Sixth. We shall, however, look at pupils on a case-by-case basis and would be willing to look at exceptions in what is an exceptional year. However, the premise for transition into the Sixth at Berkhamsted has to be based on what would be best for the pupil and our professional judgement that they are capable of thriving in that environment academically and personally.
You are still expected to take part in the programme, and we will be in contact after Easter to find out which subjects you want to study. As the courses will be designed to develop wider skills and knowledge in relation to your chosen subjects they will still be of use even if you go on to study with a course from a different Exam Board. If you have any individual concerns about what you would study, please contact your Head of House in the first instance.
We certainly hope so – obviously at this stage we don’t know if this will be in School or done online. We will keep you updated on this.
In the first instance, please speak with your Tutor or Head of House. They will be able to answer your questions or to point you in the direction of someone who can.