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Some comments on the ‘Letter to Schools and Colleges from Ofqual on the Summer 2019: GCSE, AS and A level.

 

In the recent letter to schools and colleges, OfQual reinforced the concern by awarding bodies over paper storage and security.

  • Papers must be stored securely at all times
  • Two people must check the time, date and any other relevant information before each packet is opened, and sign to say they have done that•
  • Packets should only be opened within 60 minutes of the published start time (either 9.00 am or 1.30 pm).

However, we still await a response from both OfQual and the JCQ members who sent centres all their papers for the whole exam season without consulting them and then ignoring the fact that many centres just do not have that capacity in their storage areas. The lesson that must be learnt from all this is the rules must be adhered to by everyone if we are to avoid major security breaches.

  

We still await a response from OfQual over the recent exam paper deliveries and on the range of issues raised this year in the JCQ ICE booklet related to directives on accommodation used by centres, accessibility of online papers, Invigilation requirements, new inspection regime and the fallout from personnel who are unhappy with the conflict of interest requirements being asked of centres. And let's not forget the issues being raised by exam officers over the disparity and lack of clarity by JCQ inspectors, run by AQA over the "Second pair of eyes document" which is not referenced in the 2018/19 ICE booklet. 

 

Another key message in the OfQual letter referred to questions over marking and results and this will throw up issues for the exams officer community in August. This prompted OfQual to follow up on this theme in a recent article in Schools Weekly which is featured on the iEOA website news page – ‘Greater degree of variation in results possible, Ofqual chief warns’.

 

So, where does this leave centres? Centres may find themselves caught between two stools. If people are in doubt and they have the resources at their disposal, they will pursue the results and post results processes for further clarity. Therefore, despite the push to reduce enquires about results over recent years, this summer may throw up even more requests.

 

And to add to the dilemma centres may be unsure of whether to apply or not because no one is quite sure what the grade boundaries are going to be and as they will be based upon a mix of what has gone under the old exam system and what needs to be included under the new one. Whatever happens, exams officers will have to be on their toes to get through this summer's exam period.