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Updated 12th March 2021

We know that this has been an unsettling time and that the cancellation of GCSE and some other exams will have undoubtedly caused concerns and raised many questions about the awarding of grades and qualifications this summer.

We have continued to work closely with awarding organisations and monitor the updated guidance from the Department of Education and Ofqual so that we are able to provide you with the most up to date guidance.

It is expected that we will begin to receive detailed and specific guidance on how qualifications will be awarded this summer towards the end of March 2021. It is also clear to us that not all qualifications will be awarded in the same way and not in the same way as summer 2020. Therefore, we will continue to update you as the information becomes available so that you are aware of the requirements of the College, teachers/tutors and yourselves in relation to upcoming assessments, exams and coursework.

During this period it is important that you continue to attend all lessons, submit all coursework and continue to submit assessment work so teachers have a range of information to support the College in producing ‘Teacher Assessment Grades’ where they will be used and to ensure that you give yourself the best opportunity to achieve and exceed your target grade this year.

Please see a summary of the information currently available from the Department of Education below, we will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.

We wish you the best of luck with your remaining assessments, coursework and exams (where they continue) this academic year.

Qualification categories and associated grading, assessment and exam guidance

This year there are three groups of vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) and other qualifications, each with a different approach to awarding.

Given the diversity of these qualifications, the precise arrangements of each will differ slightly but they will all aim to provide as much fairness to learners as possible.

Eastleigh College will be adhering to all guidance issued by the Government, Ofqual and all relevant awarding bodies.

Qualifications used for progression to further or higher education

Where VTQs (similar to GCSEs, AS and A-levels) are used for progression to further or higher education, exams will no longer be going ahead. Instead, these will receive results through alternative arrangements similar to those being used for GCSEs, AS and A-levels.

This includes:

  • Level 2 & Level 3 qualifications with an external assessment
  • Core maths

Qualifications used to enter directly into employment

Where VTQs are used to enter directly into an apprenticeship or employment exams or assessments will continue where they:

  • are critical to demonstrate occupational or professional competence.
  • can be delivered in line with public health measures.
  • can take place in a controlled and Covid-19 secure environment where the risk of transmission is low.

If the exam or assessment cannot take place safely it will need to be postponed to a later date.

This includes:

  • Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications such as for plumbing, electrical installation and motor vehicle maintenance.

Other qualifications

For smaller qualifications that are not comparable to GCSEs, AS or A-levels exams and assessments should continue in line with public health measures, or remotely, but with alternative arrangements available for those who cannot access these.

This includes:

  • Functional Skills English and maths
  • English as a second language
  • ‘On demand’ exams and assessments

Proposals for 2021


Normal year

Proposed approach for 2021


Learners take ‘unseen exams’ – neither they nor their teachers know beforehand the topics to be covered by the questions. All learners take the same exam papers. The exams are taken under tightly controlled conditions. The exams are marked by the exam boards.

There will be no exams (except perhaps in the case of private candidates).

Non-exam assessment

Non-exam assessments are used in some subjects. They are usually marked by teachers and the marking is moderated by the awarding boards. The relative weighting of the non-exam assessment is prescribed.

Non-exam assessments will be completed where possible, although the conditions under which they are taken might have to be adjusted. We propose that the awarding boards do not moderate teacher marking. Teachers should be able to reduce the normal weight given to non-exam assessment, if a student has had difficulties completing it.

Evidence of a student’s performance

The only evidence taken into account when a learner’s grade is set is their performance in their exams and non-exam assessments.

Teachers will take into account other evidence of a learner’s performance. We propose the awarding bodies and exam boards should provide guidance on the relative weighting of the different forms of evidence. This may include the use of papers set by the exam boards, evidence from non-exam assessment or other performance evidence. It may also include student performance in papers prepared by teachers.


Schools and colleges can ask for the marking of an exam to be reviewed, after results have been issued. Learners can ask their school or college to review a teacher’s marking of their non-exam assessment before the mark is submitted for moderation.

Learners can appeal on the grounds that they believe the grade is not supported by the evidence of their performance or that the correct approach has been followed.


The College is looking at the timing of Results Day to increase the time available for the appeals process.

Setting standards

The exam boards set grade boundaries. In this way they maintain standards year on year, between schools and colleges and between exam boards.

As exams have been cancelled, exam boards will not be able to set grade boundaries. Teachers will instead submit to the exam board the grade they think each student deserves based on the standard of the student’s work, and in line with the training and guidance provided for assessment.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or queries please raise these with your tutor in the first instance who will be able to provide you with further information and guidance.