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FAQs

Latest update: 16 July 2021

JCQ FAQs

JCQ has now published FAQs relating to summer assessment and grading. 

Summer 2021 FAQs

College FAQs

Please note, we will only add questions to this FAQs if the information requested has not already been shared within this TAG section of the website.

Can you explain why you chose for year 13 students to finish on Friday 30 April?

The timeline for the period from 8 March until the end of year 13 is a matter we have considered very carefully.  Our broad plan and our timeline were developed with our students’ best interests in mind.  It was important for us to ensure that students were able to re-adjust to face-to-face learning and to re-establish the structure of their day at the end of the lockdown.  Unlike many colleges that conducted an assessment period in March, we decided to focus on learning in the classroom.  We were also waiting for some additional clarification regarding the grading framework for 2021 and the date for submission of teacher assessed grades (TAGs), which we now know is 18 June.  We had to then work backwards from that date to ensure a period for internal quality assurance, time for teachers to complete marking and standardisation and to formulate TAGs.  It is important to note that TAGs are not based on formal assessments alone, but, rather, are drawn from a rich bank of evidence.  We scheduled the formal assessment period as late as we possibly could, so that teachers could assess students on the standard they can achieve in May, which is what the government has asked us to do.  We believe the formal assessment period is important to allow students to show what they can do and what they know.  We were unable to conduct end of year 12 assessments or mock exams, so this assessment period is the only opportunity for teachers to ensure all students are doing the same assessment under the same conditions – as late in the course as possible.  It is also very important for many students who are progressing on to higher or further education to have an experience of a more formal assessment.  An assessment schedule for all subjects with one assessment opportunity takes a period of two weeks.  Here is an overview of the schedule:

 

DATE

EVENT

30 April

Last day of lessons for year 13

4 – 14 May

Formal assessment period

17 – 28 May

Marking, standardisation and formulation of TAGs

21 and 24 May

Second assessment opportunity for those who miss the first due to Covid-19

31 May – 4 June

Half term week

7 – 14 June

Internal verification and quality assurance of TAGs

15 – 18 June

Grade submission to exam boards

18 June

Deadline for TAG submission to exam boards

The government states ‘The arrangements for this year are designed so that teaching and learning can continue for as long as possible, so your teachers’ judgement of your work should take place as late in the academic year as is practical…’ Can you tell me how ending learning on 30 April adheres to this?

As detailed above, 30 April is as late in the course as possible for the last day of lessons.  We have been fortunate to have our students here on campus full-time except for the lockdown periods, unlike many institutions that had extended periods of blended learning.  During the lockdown, we provided live teaching sessions.  As a result, our teachers have covered course content very thoroughly. 

 

Are the formal assessments not a type of exam?

The formal assessments scheduled in May 2021 are not exams.  These assessments will be used alongside other pieces of evidence teachers have gathered throughout the course.  Teachers will formulate a teacher assessed grade (TAG) by drawing from this rich bank of evidence.  Teachers will only assess students’ performance, on content that they have taught.  The TAG will not be drawn from a single piece of work, so the May assessments are just one piece of evidence.  Examples of evidence may include:

 

  • Key assessments throughout the course, including the assessments sat in May 2021
  • Coursework
  • Substantial pieces of assessed work such as essays or other types of work set as part of the course
  • Assessment of skills
  • Timed assessments/practice exam papers

 

A-level exams are very different from the assessments we will conduct in May.  Firstly, the assessment will not cover the whole course, because it is not a replacement A-level exam.  Students will be able to target their revision because teachers will be able to advise students on what will be covered in the assessment.  The assessment is aimed at providing an opportunity for students to show what they know, not what they don’t know.  Unlike with real A-level exams, students will not be competing against a national cohort and the assessment will only count as one piece of evidence used to formulate the TAG.  The full list of evidence that will be used for TAGs will be published for each subject as soon as the lists are finalised.

 

Why are year 13 students having to sit formal assessments when the Ofqual guidance states that evidence can be taken from previous assessments throughout their time at college?

The guidance clearly sets out the expectation that teachers will ‘assess students’ performance’ based on the content they have been taught.  This means that it could be different from one school or college to another.  It is up to each educational establishment to decide what is most appropriate, using a broad range of evidence.  We will need to be confident in the grades we give students this summer and we will ensure that they are a fair and consistent reflection of our students’ knowledge and performance. We have carefully considered Ofqual’s guidance, and it is our view that in the absence of year 12 end of year exams and without year 13 mock exams, we needed one formal assessment opportunity to ensure that all students were being assessed on the same content under the same conditions.  The May assessment is only one piece of evidence that will be used, unlike a real exam, which comprises the total grade.  We will use previous assessments as well to ensure teachers formulate the TAG from a broad range of evidence.

 

Will there be a study leave before this assessment period? 

We want students to be in lessons for as long as possible, so the last day of lessons is Friday 30 April and the first assessment will be the following Tuesday.  So, there is no study leave before assessments begin, but students will be on study leave during the assessment period.

 

What personal and further education support will be available to year 13 students from 30 April when there are no longer on-site lessons?

Students will continue to receive support from their personal tutors and the wider student support team.  Teachers will be available for questions via email or scheduled appointments. Our facilities will be open to all year 13 students who can continue to access the library and computer/study rooms.  Many subjects are devising on-going learning units and resource packs so that students can continue to engage with their learning in the subject after the May assessment period ends.

 

Will all students, no matter the subject, be told the detail of the topics that they should revise to ensure it is a fair playing field?

Yes.  Teachers will specify the aspects of the course that will be assessed so that students can target their revision.  But remember, the TAG will not be based solely on the May assessments, so it is important for students to continue to engage in their learning and to complete all set assignments and tasks.

 

Where a student submits work/coursework, will these assignments be carefully considered when the final result is submitted to the exam board?

Coursework may be used as part of the broad range of evidence for the TAG.  In due course, teachers will specify the pieces of evidence that will be used to formulate the TAG and subjects that have a coursework component can use this as evidence, even if it has not been fully completed.

 

What weighting will the internal assessments carry with regard to my child’s final centre-submitted grades?

Bearing in mind that TAGs will be formulated from a broad bank of evidence, each subject will specify the pieces of evidence that will be used.  The assessments scheduled for May will not be more than 60% of the TAG; however, this weighting will vary from subject to subject.  The only exception is the CEFS course, where the May assessment will account for 70% of the TAG.  We have not yet finalised the weightings for the May assessments nor yet approved the final list of evidence banks for each subject – we intend to share this information with students once it is finalised.

 

In your email you stated that, in some cases, the assessments taken in May will account for 60% of the TAG. How has this figure been calculated, given that, as far as I am aware, this sort of precise information has not yet been provided by exam boards.

Exam boards will not specify the weighting for each piece of evidence used to formulate the TAG.  It is up to each school or college to decide on the pieces of evidence to use and what the weighting should be.  This is because disruptions to learning vary throughout the country and teachers will only formulate a TAG based on the material they have taught and, again, this could vary from one educational institution to another.  To clarify, we have not stated that every assessment in May will account for 60% of the TAG.  We have said that 60% is the maximum amount the assessment can be weighted.  Each subject is working on developing the bank of evidence they will use and the appropriate weightings, which must be approved by the senior leadership team.  This process will not conclude until the end of April.  We intend to then share this information with students.  We have said all along that it is very important for students to work as hard as they can throughout the course, on all aspects of work teachers ask them to complete.  The May assessment is only one piece of evidence. 

 

Will students be given specific guidance on the topics to study rather than being told to revise everything? My child was told by subject teachers from one subject to study everything which goes against your guidance previously sent out.

 

Yes. We have asked teachers to specify which aspects of the course they will assess in May and to share this information with students so that they can focus their revision.

Will the fact that roughly 1/3 of last year’s year 12 teaching was via online learning be taken into account with TAGs submissions?

Teachers will only base TAGs on the course content that they have taught, whether in the classroom or via remote learning.  We want the very best for our students and we will do everything we can to ensure our judgements are fair and based on evidence that demonstrates a student’s performance.

 

Obviously, students have predicted grades, but within that grade boundary they could be working at either end of it. Hence, requiring more robust evidence to support these grades. How will this be dealt with?

Predicted grades are not the same things as TAGs.  Predicted grades are formulated mid-way through the course of study and attempt to project a likely outcome in exams if the student continues to work along a consistent trajectory.  TAGs will be based on teachers’ professional judgement on a range of evidence based on the course content they have taught.  TAGs are not predictions.  They are judgements based on evidence of a standard achieved, based on high quality evidence that relates to the specification in terms of both content and assessment. Most recent evidence is likely to be more representative of student performance, although there may be exceptions.

 

Students will only be assessed on work taught. Does this only mean face to face and live internet lessons?

Teachers will base their TAGs on course content they have taught, whether in face-to-face situations or via remote learning.  This is in accordance with Ofqual guidance.  The evidence must relate to the course specification, in terms of both content and assessment.  Evidence will reflect the sorts of questions or tasks that students would normally undertake in preparation for the qualification. The evidence will be subjected to internal quality assurance and moderation.

 

How will these assessments take account of how the current situation has impacted on an individual in terms of lost learning, self-teaching e.g. summer 2020 (My son has had to self-teach one of his subjects for a substantial amount of this term too), confidence, as well as the constant level of uncertainty hanging over their heads for several months due to exams being cancelled .Will it be purely data driven or can further supporting evidence such as medical evidence be provided to substantiate a student’s performance?

TAGs will be formulated.

How are grade boundaries to be established and will pupils be ranked?

Exam boards will provide advice and guidance to exemplify the standard of work expected for grades, including grade descriptors.  We will use this in formulating TAGs, but we will not be required to submit a rank order.

How is any appeals process going to operate and what evidence will need to be provided?

We are currently working on the development of the appeals process in alignment with government guidance.  We will publish an appeals procedure in due course.  Here is what we know so far:

  • We will make students aware of the arrangements in place for appeals
  • An appeal may be raised in relation to a suspected administrative error on the part of the College, for example, if a student thinks there may have been an error in data entry or in substituting one student’s result accidentally for another’s
  • An appeal may be raised if we do not follow procedures properly and consistently in arriving at results
  • An appeal may be made on the basis that the result ‘reflects an unreasonable exercise of academic judgement on the part of the Centre’
  • An appeal may be made if the awarding organisation has made an administrative error in relation to a result

 

Next event:

Campus Tour with the Admissions team 3:00pm on 10th December 2021

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