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Teens in England will be given extra help to prepare for their GCSEs and A-levels

Written by on 12 November 2021

Teenagers in England will be given a head start next year to help them overcome the difficulties of learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Education has confirmed that AS and A-level students will be given an indication of what will be covered in exams so they can revise more easily.

This will mean:

• Students taking GCSEs, AS and A-levels will be given advance information about the focus of exam content so they can revise more effectively

• Students taking GCSEs in maths will be given copies of formulae that they would previously have had to memorise

• Students taking GCSE physics and combined science will be given the equations they might need as they go in to their exams

• Students taking GCSEs in English literature, history, ancient history and geography will not need to cover the usual range of content in their exams

The Department for Education said that advance information for GCSE, AS, and A-levels will be published no later than 7 February next year and it could be published earlier than this.

In an update published on Thursday, the department said: “The government is clear that students entering GCSEs, AS or A-levels in 2022 should expect to take exams in the summer.

“In recognition of the fact that students’ education has been disrupted by the pandemic, they will be given extra help to prepare for their exams.”

It comes after two years of teacher-assisted grades being used due to the disruption brought by the pandemic.

Regulator Ofqual published guidance for teachers on how to gather evidence to assess their pupils’ performance if next year’s exams cannot go ahead.

The contingency measures advise teachers to assess students “under exam-like conditions wherever possible” to help inform teacher-assessed grades if needed.

GCSE and A-level students should sit three sets of mock exams to help decide their grades if exams are cancelled, the new plans said.

Ofqual said overall grades would be moderated to be halfway between 2019 and 2021, with chief regulator Jo Saxton saying: “This means that exam boards will set the grade boundaries so that more students get higher grades in 2022 than before the pandemic.

“This will provide a safety net for those students who might otherwise just miss out on a higher grade.”

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Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “These plans involve students having to sit a series of mock exams which may or may not count towards their final grades, as well as then probably having to take formal exams next summer.

“This is far from ideal and places them under a great deal of pressure.

“But not having a contingency plan would risk a repeat of the chaos of the past two years, and therefore, on balance, this seems like the right course of action and the confirmed set of measures appear to be sensible enough.”