GCSE AS and A Levels

Exams and Assessments Update for 2020-21

GCSE, AS & A2 Qualifications for Summer 2021

On 20th January 2021 the Welsh Government confirmed that all learners in Wales studying for Qualifications Wales approved GCSE, AS and A Levels in 2021 will receive grades determined by their school or college in place of exams.

The process that CAVC, and all other schools and colleges in Wales, will go through to award these grades to each individual is called Centre Determined Grades.

At CAVC, provisional Centre Determined Grades will be provided to each learner by 25th June. The learner is then able to review these and discuss with the College. Final Centre Determined Grades will then be provided to each learner on official Results Days in August.

AS and A2 Levels Results Day – Tuesday 10th August
GCSE Results Day – Thursday 12th August 

We want learners, parents and stakeholders of CAVC to have a clear understanding of the entire process so that at every step you can feel confident and informed. 

Here you will find more detail on exactly what a Centre Determined Grade is, along with the detailed process of how each grade will be awarded. This includes information on how decisions are made by lecturers, the evidence used to inform these decisions, the support lecturers receive in making them and the quality assurance processes in validating these decisions to ensure that all learners receive a fair and appropriate final grade.

If you are unsure or have any concerns about any of the process then please discuss them with your teacher, or contact alevels@cavc.ac.uk and one of the team will be happy to guide you through it. 

What is a Centre Determined Grade?

A Centre Determined Grade is the grade awarded by CAVC.

In order to award these grades, CAVC will take on the role of an examination centre and will follow the Assessment Model that adheres to the guidance set out by the examination regulator, Qualifications Wales. You can find a copy of the guidance here.

The grade is based on the work which has been completed by a learner across the areas of the qualification that have been covered.

For each qualification, lecturers will use the WJEC Assessment Framework which includes detailed descriptions of the criteria for each grade to ensure grades are accurately awarded.

Grades awarded by the College will be based on robust evidence which clearly demonstrate attainment across the knowledge base and skills for each qualification.

All lecturers will be required to apply their professional judgment and decide whether the knowledge and skills demonstrated meets the usual standards for a specific grade.

It will not be possible or permitted for lecturers to award Centre Determined Grades based on professional prediction or the potential of a learner. All professional judgements will be based on the work that has been completed as defined within the Assessment Model followed by CAVC.

In determining grades, the college will make ‘best-fit’ judgements. This means that learners are required to demonstrate enough evidence of attainment across all content as specified by WJEC for each qualification. A ‘best-fit’ approach ensures that strengths and areas for improvement are all taken into account.

Where there is insufficient evidence, or where evidence of attainment is below that required to a receive a grade for a qualification (ie. G Grade at GCSE; E grade at AS/A level) then a learner will be awarded a Centre Determined Grade of U.

CAVC’s Assessment Model

Centre Determined Grades will be generated using evidence of work completed by learners. The Assessment Model below separates the types of evidence that will be used in each qualification into four Assessment Boxes. You can find the detailed information included within each Assessment Box below.

For all subjects (excluding GCSE English and Maths), one assessment will take place onsite, with the remaining assessments taking place online. CAVC will be able to accommodate learners who wish for all assessments to take place onsite. This may include reasons such as internet issues at home, or the remote environment not being conducive to performing in assessed conditions.

Assessments are not examinations. Therefore, the college will create assessment conditions that enable performance to be assessed in a fair and transparent manner. In order to meet the diversity of needs and to reflect the different experience of learners over the past year, we will use a blend of robust assessment techniques to fairly assess all learners. Importantly, all assessments will use WJEC Assessment Frameworks and adapted past papers as the basis.

Learners who are entitled to Exam Access Arrangements will be able to access the same arrangements for these assessments.

Assessment Box 1:

This assessment will take place onsite (excluding GCSE English & maths).  The college will make use of WJEC adapted past-papers.  These papers have been externally quality assured and are supported by clear mark schemes.  Furthermore, both lecturers and learners are familiar with the structure, style and language of these assessments.  There will be additional time to ensure all learners can access and complete the assessments.  Finally, these assessments will take place in ‘highly controlled’ conditions.  Typically, this mean that learners will have ‘close’ timings (i.e. assessments taking place over one or two sessions), will be remotely supervised and will be expected to answer questions without the use of class notes / aids.

These assessments are typically ‘end-loaded’ (i.e. they will take place later within the assessment cycle).

Assessment Box 2:

This assessment will take place online.  As with Assessment Box 1, the mode of assessment will be the same (using WJEC adapted past-papers).  These assessments will focus more on the development, application and evaluation of knowledge across the covered content.  Subsequently, these will take place in ‘controlled’ conditions.  This means will have extended timings (i.e. assessment taking place over one week), will be unsupervised and learners will be able to use resources and aids to support their answers.  Questions within these assessments will focus more on how learners are able to use knowledge.  Critically, these assessments will be based on adapted past-papers, their accompanying mark schemes and will be assessed in line with the WJEC Assessment Frameworks and Grade Descriptors.

These assessments are typically ‘end-loaded’ (i.e. they will take place later within the assessment cycle).

Assessment Boxes 3 & 4:

These assessments will take place online.  These assessment boxes will give learners the opportunity to have performance assessed using a range of assessment techniques.  These include:

Composite Grading:  Lecturers may use other types of contributing evidence to support the determination of a grade.

  • This can include evidence from previously completed WJEC past-paper questions, which have been externally quality assured, with a published mark scheme, and where they have been completed under highly controlled conditions (i.e. onsite, in class).
  • Assessments undertaken prior to Education Minister’s November Announcement and/or other assessed work may only be used to help confirm a judgement.

Non-Examination Assessment (NEA):

  • These exist in many qualifications with weighting towards the overall grade in most cases being lower than unseen assessments.  Lecturers will use existing NEA as part of the overall assessment.

    Centre-Designed Assessment:

  • Lecturers will be given the opportunity to design assessments to enable the assessing of specific skills.  Crucially, all Centre Designed Assessments will be created using WJEC adapted past papers / centre adapted papers and mark schemes. They will focus on specific skills such as application and evaluation and can take a variety of assessment forms such as; synoptic questions, extended answers & vivas.  Learner performance will be assessed using externally quality assured WJEC mark schemes as well as the Grade Descriptors.

For AS levels, there will three assessment boxes as opposed to four.  This is to reflect the relative size of the qualification whilst maintaining its integrity.

How do I know my grade will be assessed fairly?

Quality Assurance & Determining of Grades:

The college has robust process for quality assurance, centrally overseen by the Quality Department.  This will follow WJEC and Qualifications Wales guidance and ensure that all Subject Assessment Models are valid, reliable, equitable and fair, while seeking to avoid discrimination.  In addition, the college will work with partner colleges to externally quality assure the Assessment Model for GCSE, AS & A level qualifications.

Process for Quality Assurance:

  • Lecturer(s) produce Subject Assessment Model in line with WJEC, Qualifications Wales & CAVC guidance.
  • Learning Area Lead & Deputy Head review Assessment Model to ensure it is in line with WJEC past-papers & Assessment Frameworks.
  • Associate Dean for Teaching & Learning & Deputy Head internally review sample Subject Assessment Models.
  • Associate Dean for Teaching & Learning externally reviews sample Subject Assessment Models with external college partner (another FE college).
  • Associate Dean Subject Assessment Model Sign-Off
  • Head of Quality reviews sample
  • Standards Boards chaired by the Principal of the College.

What is the step-by-step process for determining grades?

Process for Determining Grades:

  • Lecturer(s) assess performance of learners in each assessment box, recording assessment scores & grades on a specifically designed Assessment Matrix.  Scores are based on the WJEC past-paper mark schemes and grades are based on WJEC Grade Descriptors
  • For all learners, an assessment box score & grade is combined for an overall Centre Determined Grade.
  • In order to ensure clarity and transparency, all learners will be ranked within each subject based on their assessment scores and grades.
  • The college will keep a record to document clearly the rationale for determining grades. This will detail the identification of any reasonable adjustments or special considerations applied.
  • All Centre Determined Grades will go through a thorough review process before being published to learners.  This includes, internal verification of assessment for all GCSE, AS & A level qualifications as well as an executive internal assessment board.
  • Following executive sign-off, Centre Determined Grades will be published to learners.

What can I do if I want to appeal my grade?

Learner Review of Centre Determined Grades

Learners will be able to appeal grades on the basis of a procedural error or an error in judgement.  All reviews will be conducted by the Quality Department who will examined the sources of evidence (i.e. the Assessment Model), the scores & grades given as well as the corresponding assessment documentation.  Any changes will be communicated to learners in advance of submitting Centre Assessed Grades to the WJEC

The WJEC will implement a process to permit students to appeal a Centre Determined Grade on the grounds of procedural error only, where a review of grade has been unsuccessful. Similarly, Qualifications Wales will also implement an Examination Procedures Review Service. At each stage of the review/appeal process, students will need to be aware that a centre determined grade may be improved or be lowered.

Public Sector Equality Duty and Data Processing

In developing an approach to centre determined grades in 2021, the college has taken steps to ensure it meets its Public Sector Equality Duty. This is a legal requirement and forms part of the Equality Act (2010), which ensures due regard to the need to

  1. Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act (2010);
  2. Advance equality and opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not; and
  3. Foster good relations between people who share relevant protected characteristics and those who do not.

The college will ensure it meets data protection and processing regulations. This may result in modifications to existing policies and practices. However, it is anticipated that joint examination regulators may coordinate this to provide assurances that data is handled appropriately and for the intended purpose.

Integrity of submitted work:

It is essential that all learners submit work that is their own and in line with the conditions of each assessment.  Learners will be required to sign a declaration for each assessment, confirming that the work submitted is solely their own.  Extensive internal checks will be made to verify learner work including:

  • Matching submitted work against previously submitted work
  • Looking at trend performance across the assessment boxes
  • Using a variety of advanced plagiarism detection tools
  • Random sampling of learners for ‘assessment conversations’ (or viva voches) where learners will discuss the work submitted.These will be held by two specialist lecturers.