GCSE examinations: Guidance from Ofqual

Dear Parent,

GCSE examinations: Guidance from Ofqual

Last week the government regulator with responsibility for public examinations, Ofqual, published important information about arrangements for GCSEs in 2022.

We share Ofqual’s overriding aim – to get back to normal with examinations that are set, marked and graded by examiners, with everyone taking the same assessments at the same time, in the same way. This approach, the one adopted over many years, remains the best way of ensuring that young people can show what they know, understand and can do.

Changes by 7th February

Ofqual also acknowledge that Year 11 students have experienced a period of disruption which deserves to be recognised in order to alleviate the impact of any ‘lost learning’. A small number of subject changes have already been announced and more will follow by no later than 7th February 2022. These changes are likely to steer teachers to particular parts of the specification and away from others that will not appear in the final examinations.


Qfqual have also clarified their aim for the grading of next year’s examinations. The grading standard will reflect a midway point between 2021 (teacher assessed grades) and 2019 (the last year of public examinations). This means that exam boards will set the grade boundaries so that more students get higher grades in 2022 than before the COVID pandemic.

Contingency arrangements

The strong assumption is that 2022 examinations will go ahead as planned but if further COVID related disruption prevents this from happening, an alternative will be needed. Qfqual have informed schools that this contingency will be through the use of centre assessed grades which will be administered in a similar way as in 2020 and 2021. Ofqual are keen to stress that this scenario is highly unlikely but one that ought to be planned for just in case.

Mock (PPE) examinations

The Ofqual guidance around contingency arrangements makes recommendations for schools which we support and will act upon, including the need for more formal assessments in each subject in each of the three school terms. In order to satisfy this strongly worded suggestion we are planning to introduce a second round of PPE exams in the spring term.

The first round of PPEs will take place as already scheduled between Friday 7th January and Friday 14th January 2022. These exams will replicate the real thing by only testing pupils on topics taught, assessing work against published mark schemes and ensuring that access arrangements are in place for eligible students.

The second set of PPEs have been provisionally timetabled for the week commencing 21st March and arrangements for the summer term will be made nearer to the date and will be dependent on whether or not the contingency plans are likely to be triggered.

The mock examinations will therefore serve to satisfy the requirement for a centre assessed grade should the need arise and provide formative assessment information that will enable students to better prepare for the public examinations proper.

Yours sincerely,

R D Jones