2020 GCSE, AS and A Level results
Updated 19 August 2020
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all GCSE, AS and A Level examinations scheduled for summer 2020 were cancelled.
Students in Years 11, 12 and 13 will receive their final confirmed grades from the examination boards in all the subjects they would have sat examinations for in summer 2020.
How were students' grades determined?
In June 2020, schools were asked to supply the examination boards with two pieces of information per subject for each student.
- The grade the school believed the student would most likely have achieved had they sat the examination in summer 2020 as normal. This is called the Centre Assessment Grade (CAG).
- The student's rank order position within that grade. All students were placed in a single rank order within each grade, based on teachers' professional judgement and the range of evidence they had available.
Centre Assessment Grades and rank order positions were finalised after a rigorous process within school and were subject to scrutiny and moderation by the Senior Leadership Team before submission to the boards.
The examination boards then applied a statistical standardisation process at subject level intended to ensure that the final grades awarded were broadly in line with what would normally be expected given the school's historic outcomes. The standardisation process was set out by the qualifications regulator Ofqual, taking schools' centre assessment grades and considered them against:
- past results for each school or college and changes in its year-on-year entry profile
- prior attainment information for this year's students
- national outcomes for each subject in previous years
The grades determined through this statistical process are called the calculated grades. For more information about the process, please read the following guide produced by the qualifications authority Ofqual (updated on 19th August 2020).
So what grades do students actually receive?
Initially, students in Year 13 received their calculated grades on 13th August. These grades in many cases were lower than the Centre Assessment Grades proposed by the school, although in a small number of cases were higher.
Extensive media coverage of the issue around the time of the release of A Level results led to a change of policy. In a statement on 17th August, the Department for Education confirmed that the GCSE, AS and A Level grades awarded would now be on the basis of the Centre Assessment Grades.
For Year 12 and 13 students....
- Students have already been able to find out their Centre Assessment Grades by making a Subject Access Request (see below).
- The final grade students receive will be the higher of the Centre Assessment Grade or the calculated grade.
- Revised results slips showing confirmed AS and A Level results will be issued as soon as possible.
For Year 11 students....
- The grades released on 20th August will be the final confirmed grades, representing the higher of the Centre Assessment Grade or the examination board's calculated grade for each subject.
Can students find out their actual Centre Assessment Grades from the school?
The final results slips for GCSE or A Level do not indicate whether a particular grade is the Centre Assessment Grade or the calculated grade. Students should remember that the final grade will be whichever of these was the higher.
The Centre Assessment Grades and rank order positions submitted to the examination boards are classed as confidential personal data. Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and 2018 Data Protection Act, students must therefore make a Subject Access Request to ask for this data to be released. The student must do this themselves - parents cannot make a request on their behalf.
To make a subject access request students should email the school's Data Protection Officer, Mr Harding, at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Subject Access Request and stating clearly what information they wish to see. The law requires the school to respond within 30 days, but we will try and ensure that students receive a reply as soon as possible.
Further information about the school's data protection policy can be found here.
What can students do if they are unhappy with their grades?
The first thing to emphasise is that all students should consider whether the grades they have received enable them to do what they wanted to do next - eg to take up the university place they were expecting, or to access their chosen A Level courses.
If students have met the entry requirements for their preferred university, apprenticeship or Sixth Form programme even if their grades were not what they hoped for, our advice is that they should focus on the 'next stage' and spend time preparing for this exciting new chapter.
However, there are two things that students can do if they are unhappy with the grades they have been given.
1. Sit an examination in the relevant subjects
The examination boards are running an Autumn series of examinations in all subjects, with A Levels in October and GCSEs in November. Students could also enter for examinations in summer 2021. If they choose to sit an examination, both grades will stand and the highest grade can be used for progression.
To be entered for examinations in the Autumn series, students should return the appropriate entry form below to the school by 24th August for A Level entries, and by 11th September for GCSE entries. Where students are able to successfully move on to their planned next step, they should think carefully about the time which would need to be spent revising for these examinations, particularly given the length of the school closure period, and whether this is really the best use of their time.
2. Ask the school to submit an appeal to the examination board.
Appeals to the examination board can only be made by the school, not by individual students, and are only possible on technical grounds where an error is believed to have been made by the school or the examination board.
Students cannot use the appeals process to challenge their centre assessment grade(s) or rank order position(s). This is because any appeal would have to be undertaken by someone better placed than the student's teachers to judge their likely grade if exams had taken place – in the unique circumstances of this summer, there is no such person.
The information below constitutes the school's policy on appeals for summer 2020 only (updated 19th August 2020 following changes to DfE/Ofqual policy).
What are the possible grounds for appeals?
Students can ask the school to check whether it made a mistake when submitting their centre assessment grade(s) or their position in the rank order(s). If the school finds it made a mistake in the data it provided it can ask the exam board to correct it;
The school can appeal to the exam board on students' behalf if it believes the exam board used the wrong data when it calculated their grade(s), or made a mistake when it communicated those grade(s).
The current information from Ofqual about the appeals process (updated on 19th August 2020) can be found in the document below:
Additional 'summary guidance' was published by Ofqual on 26th August and can be accessed below:
This additional guidance makes it clear that makes it clear that students cannot appeal on the basis that they disagree with their school’s professional judgement of the grade they would most likely have achieved if exams had taken place. As described elsewhere, centres can submit an appeal if they believe there has been an error in the data the exam board used to calculate results. However, a school could not raise concerns about its CAGs on the basis that another school took a different approach, that different teachers might have come to a different judgement, or because the national process of standardisation did not operate as expected. Exam boards would need to be satisfied that the approach taken by the school or college was inappropriate, not that a different judgement about a CAG could have been reached, to allow an appeal on the basis that the original judgement was flawed.
Students who wish the school to submit an appeal on their behalf are asked to put this in writing using the form below, clearly stating the reasons for their appeal.
The form should be returned to email@example.com as soon as possible so that the request can be considered properly.
Requests for appeals will be considered by members of the Senior Leadership Team and submitted to the relevant examination board(s) if it is judged that there are sufficient grounds to do so. The final deadline for submission of appeals to the examination boards is 17th September.
If a request is made but an appeal subsequently not submitted, students may challenge that decision and ask for it to be reviewed. To do this they should contact the Headteacher directly, explaining why they disagree with the decision.
Concerns about bias or discrimination
Any student with concerns about bias, discrimination, or any other reason why they believe their Centre Assessment Grades were not fairly assigned, should raise this with the school in the first instance - and then follow the school's normal Complaints Procedure.