As you are aware, due to the disruption to learning the pandemic has caused to all schools nationally, the DfE made the decision to scrap formal GCSE examinations this summer and allow schools to use their own evidence and assessment methods to determine GCSE grades.
As a parent/carer and student, we want to provide you with clarity and guidance on how Little Lever School is supporting students in these final weeks in school and how we are using a range of evidence and rigorous protocols to accurately and fairly award your child’s GCSE grades.
What will happen if my child has to self isolate during the assessment period before May half term?
Firstly, please do not worry. We know COVID infection rates are rising across Bolton and as a result we have seen positive cases in school which has led to students having to self isolate. This may continue and we urge all our community to continue to follow the measures of control to help Bolton get back on top of the virus. We will release further information from Public Health England about this soon.
We will do everything we can to ensure our students are not disadvantaged by self isolation. Students have worked incredibly hard and we will also work hard to ensure everyone has an opportunity to complete their assessments.
Here’s what will happen if your child has to self isolate before May half term:
Students should follow their normal in school timetable remotely and log into their LIVE sessions / check the Google Classroom everyday. Students will need to follow the times of the day as they would if they were in school. A register of attendance at LIVE sessions will be taken and phone calls will be made home if students have not logged in to ensure there are no ICT issues and to offer further support if needed.
We will give EVERY student who has to self isolate the opportunity to complete any assessments they may have missed.
Assessments will be timetabled for when students return to school. This will be organised in a timely manner to ensure students do not have to complete too many assessments in a short space of time. If necessary we will organise assessments over the half term period so everyone has an opportunity to complete them.
In order to keep the process as fair as possible for all students those students who will be completing an assessment following a period of self isolation will be assessed on exactly the same topics with the same level of difficulty as those students who completed the assessment in school. The questions, however, may be different.
Please continue to test TWICE a week on Sundays and Thursdays and inform us as soon as possible of a positive case.
Please remember self isolation is a legal duty and individuals are not allowed to leave their house or receive visitors during the specified time.
Together we can help keep on top of the virus and ensure we keep as many students in school and keep our community as safe as possible.
- What does the DfE say about awarding GCSE grades this year?
The guidance from the DfE for how grades were awarded in 2020 is different to how schools will award grades this year in 2021.
Summer 2020… schools and colleges were asked to submit ‘the most likely grade a student would have achieved if they had sat their exams this summer and completed any non-exam assessment’.
This was, in effect, a predicted grade.
Summer 2021 – teachers ‘should make a holistic judgement of each student’s performance on a range of evidence relating to the subject content that has been delivered by their teacher (either in the classroom or via remote learning)…’
‘[the] qualification grade should reflect what a student knows, understands and can do.’ Every ‘exam board will require each school, college or other exam centre to submit a grade for each student, based on an assessment of the standard at which they are performing’.
Simply put…this year, grades must be based on evidence and not the potential of the candidate.
- What evidence can schools use to award GCSE grades?
- Student work produced in response to assessment materials provided by the exam board, including groups of questions, past papers or similar materials such as practice or sample papers.
- Student work that reflects the specification, that follows the same format as exam board materials and has been marked in a way that reflects exam board mark schemes. This can include substantial class or homework (including those that took place during remote learning),
- Internal tests (STEP Assessments) taken by pupils and mock exams taken over the course of study.
Records of a student’s capability and performance over the course of study in performance-based subjects such as music, drama and
- Records of each student’s progress and performance over the course of study i.e. from Year 9
- Non-exam assessment (NEA) work (often referred to as coursework), even if this has not been fully completed.
- As a school, what evidence will you use to award GCSE grades for my child?
Firstly, we already have a range of evidence from the start of your child’s GCSE courses in Year 9 and through Year 10 in the form of classwork, low stakes quiz scores, half termly STEP assessments, and coursework / module work submissions (where applicable).
In Year 11 we already have a set of mock exam results from December 2020, and have continued with STEP assessments over the remote learning period, along with evidence of work submitted in lessons.
In addition, we will review attendance context data throughout the year to ensure students aren’t unfairly penalised for absence due to circumstances beyond their control due to COVID.
In the final few weeks of Year 11, teachers will begin ASSESSING students in order to detemine the GCSE grade they will receive in August. These assessments will vary in format; they range from STEP assessments, unit tests, timed essays, project submissions to past paper exams which are full or parts of the paper depending on what content has been taught. Most will be staggered over a number of weeks in normal lessons, some will be done in exam bases with the whole year group involved.
It’s important to note that these assessments form part of a larger picture of evidence, but will play an important part in gauging PROGRESS from the December mocks to the end of each course.
Our policy states in relation to our use of evidence;
- Teachers making judgements will have regard to the Ofqual Head of Centre guidance on recommended evidence, and further guidance provided by awarding organisations.
- All candidate evidence used to determine teacher assessed grades, and associated documentation, will be retained and made available for the purposes of external quality assurance and appeals.
- We will be using student work produced in response to assessment materials provided by our awarding organisation(s), including groups of questions, past papers or similar materials such as practice or sample papers.
- We will use non-exam assessment work (often referred to as coursework), even if this has not been fully completed.
- We will use student work produced in centre-devised tasks that reflect the specification, that follow the same format as awarding organisation materials, and have been marked in a way that reflects awarding organisation mark schemes.
- We will use substantial class or homework (including work that took place during remote learning).
- We will use internal tests taken by pupils.
- We will use mock exams taken over the course of study.
- We will use records of a student’s capability and performance over the course of study in performance-based subjects such as music, drama and PE.
- How will my child's lessons, assignments and assessments in BTEC, vocational course be affected by the proposed changes?
The current guidance is that schools should continue as normal teaching and delivering the various aspects of their vocational technical qualifications. At Little Lever students study the following vocational technical qualifications and during this term they must complete aspects of the course as delivered in their live remote lessons (with some specific guidance to tasks from some courses).
BTEC Digital Information Technology (DIT)
- In BTEC DIT, students have been completing component 2b and 2c data manipulation and analysis assessments in-class and remotely. Evidence will be used from these two assessments, along with component 1 and component 3 evidence to form the teacher assessed grade. This assessment process has now ended.
- Students completed component 1 in year 9 and 10 and have been given a grade for the component 3 external examination last year.
BTEC Music Technology
- In Music BTEC students must continue to work on and produce coursework relating to their internally assessed units. The majority of this can be delivered remotely through Google Classroom, with students producing their coursework using Google Slides & other online tools.
- It is essential that students ensure they continue to complete coursework on time, as this will provide the foundation for their practical lessons, when they hopefully return to the classroom.
BTEC Creative Media
- In BTEC Creative Media Production students are expected to plan and create two pages of a magazine. They will hand draw thumbnails and sketches, decide on colours and fonts, then create a front cover and one other inside page. They will add to and keep track of their progress by updating a portfolio of their work. Finally, they will review their achievements with an evaluation. This can be written as they go along or wrote as a separate task at the end.
- Students have completed all other coursework requirements and have been given a grade for the examination unit last year. The magazine and review can be easily completed at home if students attend all remote live lessons and work steadily but at pace through the tasks.
Level 1/2 Hospitality & Catering
- For the Level 1/2 Hospitality and Catering course students are expected to complete a piece of Non Examined Assessment. This is worth 50% of the final grade. This includes a practical assessment. This work must be completed in school. Currently students are doing practice assessments and theory work to prepare them for this. It is vital that students attend all online sessions and complete these tasks.
- The remaining 50% of the assessment will be a written examination currently scheduled for the summer exam series. Students will be completing learning activities to prepare for these in upcoming lessons.
OCR Cambridge National Sports Studies
- Students will be assessed on the two completed modules they have submitted during the course of Year 11. These have already been marked, moderated and validated by the exam board.
- Modules completed in Year 10 will also be used to form part of their evidence files. In addition, tracking data from all their modules across the whole course will be taken into consideration when awarding their grade.
- How will I know what assessments my child is taking and when they take place?
We have put together a Year 11 Assessment Calendar. This lists dates, times and location of when students will be tested in each subject AND what kind of assessment it is (timed essay, past paper, in-class test, etc.)
This has been posted onto every Year 11 Parent Portal page. Students have also received paper copies of the calendar in school and it has also been published on the Year 11 2020/21: Steps to Success Google Classroom class. The code to join the class is;
The calendar shows all assessments taking place in classes and (where appropriate) exam rooms from now until the 28th May in EVERY subject.
The calendar can be viewed in the tab below…
- How will the school ensure assessments are carried out fairly and marked without bias?
Students will NOT be tested on any area/topic they have not been taught, either in school or remotely.
All work will be marked ‘blind’ by a teacher other than their own (where possible). This means the marker will not know the name of the student* to avoid any pre-conceived perceptions of the student’s capability and mark purely on the content the student has written in the assessment.
*Students will not write their name on any test – just their exam candidate number (their exam candidate number has been given to them on a piece of card which they must keep safe).
All students will complete assessments on the same day (where possible).
They will not be told assessment questions before the assessment date, however…
.…they will be given a list of general areas to revise to help focus your revision.
Please note, any student who has exam consessions such as additional time or a scribe will be provided with those in each assessment listed on the calendar. Staff have already been provided with the list of students with concessions and have planned their assessments accordingly. Senior leaders check each day in assessment rooms to ensure those students have the required support.
- How will the school ensure the grades submitted by each teacher are correct and accurate?
There will be three layers of quality assurance and checks carried out by the school before any grade/mark is submitted to the exam boards on 18th June.
Firstly, the Leader of each subject will have a full week after the May half term holiday to moderate and check EVERY grade submitted to them by their staff who teach Year 11. This will require each teacher to provide folders of evidence of how they came to the grade. This will then be used to confirm whether the grade is accurate and the evidence provided is robust and fair to the student. Remember, evidence will come from a range of sources; assessment results, December mock results, STEP assessment tracking data and actual student work (e.g. essays, filmed performance in drama, art portfolio, test paper, etc.).
Once this has been completed, the marks/grades are entered into our internal data system. This is never done in isolation.
The next layer of checks come from the Senior Leadership Team. The Line Manager for every subject area will meet with the Subject Leader and go through the grades that team has submitted, checking for any inconsistencies and asking the Subject Leader to go through their process of how the grades were awarded.
The third layer of quality assurance comes from the Head of the Centre, which is the Principal and Senior Leaders. EVERY STUDENT and EVERY GRADE from EVERY SUBJECT will be checked and gone through indivdually to look for anomolies or inconsistencies. Subject Leaders will be asked to go back and look at any grades where further clarity may be needed.
Every student will also have a hard copy evidence file, stored centrally in school. This file will contain the hard copies of evidence teachers have used to determine each grade. The file will contain a section for each subject a student studies, containing their evidence (e.g. test papers, essays, photographic evidence, mark sheets) relevant to each subject.
The final process is the actual submission and upload of the grades to the exam boards via their on-line platforms. This will be undertaken by the Exams Officer and over seen and assisted by the Senior Leader responsible.
- How will the school support my child in the coming weeks to perform at their best in their assessments?
Firstly, don’t panic!! These assessments are part of a bigger picture! Their grade will not be determined just on these assessments!
We have re-organized the English, maths and science Boost classes based on which subject your child needs the most support with at the moment.
The 35 minute Edge time periods at the start of each day provide students with an additional 2 and half hours worth of English, maths or science lessons over the course of a week. These are constantly reviewed and changes made where support is required.
Teachers will provide additional Period 0/7s, pre-assessment classes, Easter revision sessions and more besides to help students get ready and be confident in performing well in their assessments.
Our Year 11 Nightclub (3.05pm – 5pm) has been adapted to run in two IT rooms (C1 and C2). Room C1 will be a silent and focused study room where students can work independently. Room C2 will be an ‘active revision’ room, using the 9 revision strategies students can use to help revise alongsde their peers. We will provide hot food for those students who work through till 5pm.
Use the Year 11 Assessment Calendar to plan their revision and home study in between assessments.
Finally, students can speak to their teachers and any staff in school if they are feeling concerned, stressed or just unsure what to do – we are all here to support them!
- How can I support my child at home with their revision?
The Little Lever Revision Cycle provides you with guidance on how best to revise at home and what are the does and don’t’s of effective revsision.
Please visit our webpage below to find out more…
- Easter Revision Classes
To support students in readiness for their summer assessments, there are in-school and live remote revision classes taking place of the 2 week Easter break;
6th April 2021: English Language Revision 10am – 11am. 11p2 with Mr Reynolds Online Google Classroom
7th April 2021: History Revision 10am – 12pm. All Year 11 Historians H4 and H5
8th April 2021: English Language Revision 11am – 12pm. 11p3/11n3 with Ms Calvert Online Google Classroom
9th April 2021: Maths Revision. 11n1, 11n2, 11p1 in M3 and M4
9th April 2021: English Language Revision 11am – 12pm. 11p3/11n3 with Ms Calvert Online Google Classroom
12th April 2021: English A Christmas Carol Revision 10am – 11am. 11p2 with Mr Reynolds Online Google Classroom
12th April 2021: English A Christmas Carol Revision 11am – 12pm. 11p1, 11p3, 11n2, 11n3 with Ms Hutchinson and Ms Calvert Online Google Classroom
13th April 2021: Geography Revision 9:30am – 3pm. All Year 11 Geographers
15th April 2021: Science Revision Session 10am – 2pm. All year 11 Scientists S6, S9, S4, S1, S2, S8
- English, maths and science Edge forms
To further support students with their Core Subjects (English, maths and science) learning, their Edge forms (morning registration periods) provide an additional 35 minute lesson each day, focusing on key aspects of the curriculum which students find the most challenging.
Edge Tutors are made up of English, maths and science leaders and teachers. Students are allocated a particular Edge form, e.g. science Edge form, based on the Leader of each core subject’s assessment of where that student needs the most support.
The Edge forms are reviewed each week by the core subject leads and senior leaders, and students may be moved to different subject Edge forms as the year progresses and their needs change.
Current Year 11 Subject Edge Forms
Edge Form, Teacher, Room
11L, Mr Isherwood, M5
11I, Ms Stubbs, M3
11T, Mr Stanley, M8
11E, Mr Rowlinson, S4
11V, Mr Woodward, S9
11M, Ms Hargreaves, S6
11R, Ms Hutchinson, E1
11A, Ms Calvert, E5
11C, Mr Lloyd, E3
- Boost English, maths & science
The Year 11 timetable has been designed to allow for an additional 3 sessions of English, maths or science each week to be added to an individual student’s timetable, dependent on their strengths and areas to improve across the three core subjects.
Boost timetables are reviewed weekly by the leaders of the core subjects and senior staff, particularly after mock exam results or step assessment points. Students may be given a different Boost subject to attend if it is felt they require additional support in that particular subject for a period of time.
Timetables are changed the following day and the student is informed and provided with a new timetable to follow.
Students who wish to further their independent study after school in order to be fully prepared for their assessments are more than welcome to attend our updated Year 11 Nightclub. See our flyer below for more information…
- When do Year 11 students finish their studies and leave this term?
Students will be allowed to finish school on the afternoon of Wednesday 26th May after they have completed their science assessment, Session 2.
Please note there are a small number of students who have their Hospitality & Catering practical assessment on Thursday 27th May. Those students must attend. They may wear their own clothes and go straight to T6 (the food tech block) and meet Ms Ward there at their alloted time.
They will have their lunch time switched so it starts straight after the end of Session 2. There will be a small celebration after the exam has finished where the school will provide them with a free lunch (BBQ) and a parting gift. Students are free to stay for this or leave straight away if they so wish.
Staff will be on the yard with a ‘guard of honour’ to wave them off and they will leave to building via the side entrance on the rear playground (where they enter the grounds each morning).
- When is GCSE Results Day this year?
The government has brought forward the GCSE Results Day to Thursday 12th August.
Results will be avalable for collection from 10am until 12pm from the rear playground, via entry from the side gate opposite Bowness School (or from the PA1, our Drama Centre, if the weather is not suitable for outdoors).
Depending on social distancing regulations at the time, results will be stored alphabetically on a number of tables during the morning and students will be able to collect them when it is most convenient for them. If there are restrictions in place, we will inform you of certain time slots students can collect their results on, based on smaller cohorts of students being allowed on site.
Students will be issued with their GCSE results on a report generated by the school. These can be used as evidence for college and post-16 course admissions.
If students are unable to collect their results in person, a written letter from the student stating they give permission for the named member of their family (not friend) is collecting their results for them, must be provided. That person must also provide ID at the collection point, along with the letter.
- Appeals Process
Teachers have taken every care to award what they consider to be a fair and honest grade for every student. To do this they have assessed all of evidence provided by the students; considered all of students’ circumstances during the process; followed all JCQ regulations and guideline for the awarding of GCSE grades for 2021.
The school has also followed rigorous moderation and standardisation checks to ensure the accuracy of all grades issued.
On receipt of GCSE results on August 12th 2021, students do have the right to appeal against a grade(s) if they do not consider they have been issued with the correct grade, but they must understand that the grade could go down, up or stay the same.
If students do wish to appeal, then the first part of the process is to complete the Centre Review form which can be downloaded in the tab below to which the school must respond. Either post a paper copy of this to school or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and title the email GCSE Appeals 2021.
Below is an outline of the appeals process to show how all appeals will be processed.
- Do you have a policy which refers to how the school will award GCSE grades this year?
The school has published two policies in the tabs below which map out in detail how we will award GCSE grades this year, following the strict guidelines spelt out by the government and JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications).
The first is our Little Lever School GCSE 2021 Staff Guidance Handbook, which all staff have read and signed to say that they understand the procedures and expectations of how to award GCSE grades accurately, fairly and without bias in our school.
The second is our JCQ Guidance Centre Policy 2021 which has also been read by all staff and signed to say that they understand the expectations set out by JCQ in the awarding of GCSE grades.
Please feel free to read both documents below…
Students have a big say on what their GCSE grade will be, as it’s not just down to performing on one day – but showing us evidence of what they have done so far, and what they can do over the next few school weeks!
We are confident we will see scenes like we did on Results Day last year!