Exams

Legal references on this page apply to England.

JCQ FAQ Private Candidates November 2021

JCQ has published this useful FAQ re 2022 exam arrangements, scroll to page 3 for specific information about private candidates.

Ofqual Update November 2021

On November 11th 2021 Ofqual published this open letter re 2022 exam arrangements to private candidates. It can be read as a web page and does not need to be downloaded. It applies to all exams regulated by Ofqual ie GCSEs, A Levels, Vocational Qualifications etc but NOT to IGCSEs.

It is strongly recommended that private candidates also read this page as well because it has a lot more detail for private candidates even though they are not flagged up as the focus of the page.

  • Sitting exams in person, Summer 2022
  • Less of the syllabus to cover OR advance notice of exam content
  • Backup plan for Teacher Assessed Grades if face to face exams have to be cancelled due to covid
  • How backup plan might work for private candidates, several options

At the time of writing in November 2021 it is expected that candidates will sit exams in exam centres as used to happen before covid. However, the exams will NOT be exactly the same as pre-covid because covid has reduced the teaching time. Therefore depending on the subject, there will EITHER be optional topics and content OR towards the end of study time, the exam boards will provide some advance information about what will actually be included in the exams. The advance information will not be published until February 2022. Private candidates will not have to wait longer than other candidates as they can either get the details from their registered exam centre or check exam boards websites. More details can be found here or here.

Ofqual says that if exams have to be cancelled, contingency arrangements will need to be in place. For SCHOOLS this will involve candidates having already sat mini-exams which can form the basis of Teacher Assessed Grades [TAG].

Ofqual suggests that PRIVATE CANDIDATES can EITHER mirror the school contingency arrangements as above, and confirm with their exam centre right from the start that they will be sitting mini-exams periodically to serve as backup for Teacher Assessed Grades [TAG] in the event that Summer exams do have to be cancelled OR alternatively, if private candidates have NOT already sat the mini-exams over an extended period, they can arrange to do so in a more compressed timeframe AFTER exams are cancelled.

In other words, private candidates looking for a centre where they can sit exams in Summer 2022 are NOT restricted just to those centres which would run the mini-exams throughout the study period for the purpose of Teacher Assessed Grades if exams had to be cancelled.


JCQ Centre List Private Candidates, Autumn 2021

Released August 2021 https://www.jcq.org.uk/private-candidates/

Student Guide to Awarding and Appeals Summer 2021

August 2021: Ofqual Exam Procedures Review Service The EPRS is an Ofqual process to look at the procedure an exam board followed. It will not review the student's work and cannot change the grade, but it can ask the exam board to look at the appeal again if it thinks the exam board made a mistake when it issued the grade, or when it considered the appeal.

Ofqual rolling update

August 2021: DfE Student Guide Results Day

August 2021: DfE grades 1 to 9

August 2021: DfE Student Guide Didn't Get Grades, What Next

August 2021: https://www.jcq.org.uk/summer-2021-arrangements/

JCQ Guide Appeals 2021 published June 2021 + outcome guidance consultation June 2021 + DfE FAQ Appeals June 2021.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/student-guide-to-awarding-summer-2021 published May 10th 2021.


Ofqual April Blog and Guidance

Ofqual blog published April 22nd 2021 https://ofqual.blog.gov.uk/2021/04/22/quality-assurance-for-gcse-as-and-a-level-information-for-schools-and-colleges/

Ofqual guidance teacher assessed grades, updated April 27th 2021. "Submitting data and evidence This section has been updated following confirmation of the detailed arrangements for external quality assurance."


JCQ Centre List Private Candidates, Summer 2021

On March 31st 2021 JCQ released https://www.jcq.org.uk/private-candidates-summer-2021/ which containes information about exam centres prepared to take private candidates for GCSEs (ie NOT IGCSEs, although they MAY help with IGCSEs if you ask) also A Level (here just called "GCE")

Please note that the government is clear that centres can conduct remote assessment so it will not be necessary to travel to the physical exam centre or even to live nearby.

This is the first time such information has ever been collected by JCQ


HEQA useful link: https://heqa.uk/page/2021-private-candidate-arrangements/


JCQ Guidance Private Candidates

JCQ Private Candidates Evidence

On March 26th 2021 JCQ published guidance on determination of GCE grades which incorporates AND SUPERSEDES the previous Interim Guidance on private candidates from JCQ. Information about private candidates can be found on pages 40 -45. The illustration is taken from page 45 covering three possible scenarios where a private candidate has been working with a tutor, where a private candidate has been enrolled with a distance learning provider, and thirdly where a candidate is in neither of those positions.

See also https://www.jcq.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Summer-2021-Private-Candidates-FAQs-FINAL.pdf

Some references may be found on this page


Consultation Autumn Exam Series 2021

Consultation Autumn Exam Series 2021 announced March 17th, closes April 9th.


Private Candidates Support Grant

On March 15th 2021 the Department for Education announced a grant of £200 for centres supporting private candidates.

"Centres will receive information from JCQ in the week beginning 15 March about how to be included on the list. Once the list is published at the end of March, private candidates will be able to use the list to find an exam centre."

From the same link as above: "International GCSEs and A levels are not eligible because these are not regulated by Ofqual". An earlier blog post from Ofqual explains more about this situation.


Private Candidates Summer 2021

Private candidates discussed at the Education Committee, March 9th 2021, transcript here https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/1837/html/

This has been written in response to the Ofqual consultation launched on February 25th 2021 which ends on March 11th. It focuses on the arrangements for private candidates, particularly where the candidate has NOT used a distance learning provider or a tutor already working in conjunction with the exam centre.

On a point of terminology, "awarding organisation" [AO] and "exam board" tend to be used interchangeably.

There is also to be a new definition of private candidates set out in GQAA1 as follows:
Private Candidate
A Learner in relation to whom there is no Relevant Centre.
Relevant Centre
In relation to a Learner, a Centre which –
(a) has purchased the GQ Qualification on behalf of the Learner, and
(b) materially contributed to the preparation of the Learner for the assessment (whether through teaching or instruction provided by Teachers employed by it or otherwise).

NB elsewhere, private candidates may also be referred to as external candidates, but private candidates now seems to be the preferred term.

Specific information about private candidates can be found in Annex D of the Ofqual consultation, but there are implications for private candidates throughout the remaining consultation material, whether explicitly stated or not.

The present consultation is concerned solely with arrangements for Summer 2021 but GQAA2 says "The proposed condition also reflects our decision to consult on arrangements for an autumn examination series". This does not unequivocally state that there will be an Autumn series nor that if it were to happen it would necessarily mirror the arrangements for the Summer series. In addition we are not given timescales for when the Autumn series might take place and therefore when the outcome of this not-yet-started consultation would have to decided.

It is proposed that there will be no exams for GQ qualifications anywhere in the UK but that exams CAN be available outside the UK [source = Condition GQAA2]

The absolute final date for registration is to be June 18th 2021, with exam results to be published "by August" [source = Condition GQAA3]

In practice however, centres dealing with private candidates are likely to be inundated and may have capacity issues when it comes to late registration, especially this year.

A number of centres which have assisted private candidates in the past have already indicated that they are not in a position to do so this year. The government has been made aware of this and has recently said "there will be a number of assessment centres. A list will be put up soon. Multi-academy trusts have volunteered to assess private candidates, so private candidates can look at a list". [SOURCE]

Moreover, we don't know how much private candidates will have to pay. There is the entry fee for the normal deadline and then there is the late entry fee. To give an idea of timescales, this Pearson web page for private candidates says "We can assure private candidates that they will not need to pay higher entry fees if, as a result of this, they need to make their entry after the extended entry deadline. We appreciate that the arrangements are not yet clear for private candidates and so we will not penalise private candidates making entries up to 22 March"

However, the exam board charges are not the only cost for private candidates. There can also be an administration fee charged by the centre; plus any additional charges passed on by the centre to cover the extra work. The government has said "We are assisting with the cost of this" [SOURCE as above] but it is not clear whether the financial assistance will extend to all centres taking private candidates or indeed whether the assistance will be directed to centres or to candidates.

For example, in order to mirror the position for all other candidates, it is proposed that the centre will have to discuss with private candidates which parts of the syllabus they have covered, in order that the centre can select the appropriate assessment material from the exam boards (eg past papers)

The assessment itself can be conducted remotely but the centre still has to invigilate and find an appropriately qualified independent person to mark the assessment. In addition, since the board-provided assessment material is emphatically NOT an exam and will not be sufficient on its own, there is further work for the centre in reaching a true and fair final grade taking other evidence into account. This grade then has to be quality assured and "signed off" at the centre.

The main proposals for private candidates can be found in the Centre Guidance Annex D which derives from Condition GQAA3 where we are told that private candidates "should be assessed in a similar way to other students, using a range of evidence ... [and] should have the same opportunity as other students to be assessed on what they have learnt, but centres will need to bear in mind the particular circumstances of their students in the approach they take to determining grades, including the fact that the centre often will not already have previous evidence on which to base a judgement ... this is likely to mean that centres decide to use the full range of available flexibility in how grades are determined for these students to, for example: conduct assessments remotely if necessary; set new centre-devised assessments that reflect what the student has been taught and the specification; rely more heavily on the board-provided assessment materials; exceptionally, conduct recorded oral assessments with the students where insufficient other evidence is available."

The present Ofqual consultation states that in respect of private candidates "boards will also provide guidance on potential combinations of evidence that could be used for a specific subject" ie it will NOT just be left to the centre's discretion. It also says that heads of centres will need to ensure they are able to confirm that that the grades are a true representation of student performance, adding that "exam boards will produce further guidance".

I interpret this to mean that the arrangements being put forward by any particular exam centre right now cannot be taken as definitive even if they appear to be erring on the side of over-caution, as we don't yet know the outcome from the present Ofqual consultation, plus there are no guarantees as to precisely what the exam boards' final guidance will say.

Finally, proposed appeal arrangements are set out in Condition GQAA4. There are a number of grounds on which the learner can ask the centre to review the grade issued by the awarding organisation, including where the learner believes "the result reflects an unreasonable exercise of academic judgement on the part of the Centre." The centre then has to submit a proposed revised result to the awarding organisation, together with reasons and evidence. The awarding organisation does NOT have to accept the requested change.


Information about Centres March 2021

On March 1st 2021 the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education, Baroness Berridge, said the following in the House of Lords: "Private candidates were one of the cohorts particularly affected last year. We consulted on that, and there will be a number of assessment centres. A list will be put up soon. Multi-academy trusts have volunteered to assess private candidates, so private candidates can look at a list. We are assisting with the cost of this. Private candidates can go to an assessment centre and ask to be assessed on the same basis as for a teacher-assessed grade. Obviously, there are separate lists of materials et cetera for those students. Assessment can be done remotely, so a private candidate is not limited to the provision in their town, which might happen not to include an assessment centre. So we are confident that the method we have outlined will put the assessment of private candidates on a par with that of pupils who are within an exam centre. I am also pleased to say we have this year managed to find a way to get those private candidates who were affected last year assessed." LINK column 998.


Ofqual Consultation 2021

On February 25th 2021 the Department for Education confirmed arrangements for exam grades in Summer 2021 stating "There will be a clear and accessible route for private candidates to work with a centre to receive a grade this year, at the same time as other candidates. Exam boards will provide centres with clear guidance on the evidence they can use to assess a private candidate. A list of available centres will be published shortly and, we are working with the sector to ensure there are sufficient centres available and at a similar cost to a normal year."

It can be seen that this depends entirely on the exam centre going the extra mile.


Ofqual has a further short-run technical consultation on the precise implementation of the new policy proposals, closing on March 11th 2021.

There are 4 consultation documents: Overview of proposals; Annex C, draft framework; Annex D, submission of teacher assessed grades; Annex E guidance for heads of centres

References to private candidates can be found on pages 7, 16, 17 of the Overview of proposals; pages 4, 8, 13 of Annex C; pages 5, 7, 8, 9 of Annex D, submission of teacher assessed grades

The main details can be found in Annex D

"Private candidates should be assessed in a similar way to other students, using a range of evidence. This could include taking the exam board provided assessment materials in a suitable form or be focused on other sources of evidence.
Private candidates should have the same opportunity as other students to be assessed on what they have learnt, but centres will need to bear in mind the particular circumstances of their students in the approach they take to determining grades, including the fact that the centre often will not already have previous evidence on which to base a judgement.
Where a centre accepts private candidates, exam boards will expect centres to provide to private candidates a description of the main elements of their approach to assessment before they register with them.
This is likely to mean that centres decide to use the full range of available flexibility in how grades are determined for these students to, for example:

draw on evidence from other educational institutions in line with the point above
• conduct assessments remotely if necessary
• set new centre-devised assessments that reflect what the student has been taught and the specification
• rely more heavily on the board-provided assessment materials
• exceptionally, conduct recorded oral assessments with the students where insufficient other evidence is available

Boards will also provide guidance on potential combinations of evidence that could be used for a specific subject. In all cases, the head of centre will make sure they have collected sufficient evidence to ensure that they are able to confirm that that the grades are a true representation of student performance. Exam boards will produce further guidance that assists those centres that may wish to determine grades for private candidates in doing so."


Functional Skills 2021

Arrangements for Functional Skills 2021 exams can be found here. Please note that Functional Skills grades will NOT be based on teacher assessment.

The web page published on February 25th 2021 says: "There are 3 ways learners will be able to access a result.
Assessments can continue to take place in a training provider, college, school, employer premises or alternative location, where it is safe for them to do so in line with public health guidance;
Assessments can be taken remotely or online.
Where neither of these options is possible, and learners need a result to progress, then the grade can be awarded through alternative arrangements.
Learners should speak to their training provider, college or school about which options are offered by the awarding organisation that they are registered with."



Special Needs Access Arrangements special accommodation in exams eg extra time, reader, scribe, rest breaks, modified paper. http://www.dmurphytutoring.co.uk/blog/access-arrangements-in-examinations BLOG ON ACCESS ARRANGEMENTS AND PRIVATE CANDIDATES, FEBRUARY 2016. See also http://www.senmagonline.co.uk/index.php/component/k2/item/151557-access-arrangements and this webinar (November 2016)

Introduction

Analysis of local authority support for exams when children are home educated More

exam hall

Home educated young people take exams as private candidates which involves selecting an exam board with suitable courses and finding an exam centre. State schools don't generally let young people who aren't registered pupils go in to sit exams.

DfE explains how external candidates results don't affect schools November 29th 2013

science lab Pembrokeshire College

Some home educating families find that it is not necessary to take as many exams as children do in school and there may be flexibility or non-standard entry where colleges understand more about the applicant's background. Home educators also tend to begin exams earlier. In some cases it's been possible for home educated young people to sit exams as external candidates in private schools. Home educating families tend progress through the course material by self-study working through recommended textbooks. Families can also set up their own tutor groups.

The reason why home educators tend to use centres which are already up and running rather than setting up their own registered exam centre are to do with the rules for becoming an exam centre

IGCSEs

A growing number of home educating families opt to take IGCSEs because of the difficulties of arranging to sit GCSEs. The main exam boards or awarding bodies for IGCSEs are CIEc and Pearson Edexcel. More exam centres are registered with Edexcel though this does not necessarily mean that the centre will accept private candidates for IGCSEs.

Online A Levels and Science Practicals

https://online.pembrokeshire.ac.uk/exams/ Pembrokeshire College. See also the wiki Science A Level page.

How can you get science laboratory experience, or conduct practical science investigations, from home education? This page is for KS4 (GCSE-level) and beyond, with ideas for workshops, residential courses, and how to approach practical work from home-edm see the wiki page http://he-exams.wikia.com/wiki/Science_Practicals


New Style GCSEs and A Levels

New GCSEs will be graded 9 to 1, rather than A* to G. Grade 9 is the highest grade, set above the current A*. The grades were given for the first time in 2017 results for specifications that first started teaching in 2015. By 2019, all GCSE results will be using the new system.


Alternative Qualifications and Courses

links to Access to Music Crest Awards (Science); John Muir Awards (Environment, conservation); Smallpeice Trust (Engineering, short residential courses); University of Kent Space School (Astronomy, short residential course); University of Leicester Space School; ASDAN awards

Exam Centre Run By Home Educators

Faregos Exam Centre run by home educators for home educators, Hampshire + Home education Exams tutor groups, Hampshire and Hampshire/Berkshire border More


Compulsory English and Maths 16+

The Department for Education has recognised that IGCSEs will count as equivalent "for the foreseeable future." Please see the letter from the Minister for Skills and Equalities here (pdf here)

Students must study maths and/or English as part of their programme in each academic year. This applies to students aged 16 to 18 (and 19 to 25 with an education, health and care (EHC) plan) who do not hold a GCSE grade 9 to 4, A* to C (a standard pass grade) or equivalent qualification in these subjects doing a programme of 150 hours or more, which started on or after 1 August 2014.

"We have made a change to our maths and English condition of funding guidance that will apply from academic year 2019 to 2020. The change means that students with a grade 2 or below in maths or English can study towards a pass in functional skills level 2 (legacy or reformed) or they can still study towards a GCSE grade 9 to 4. Once they have achieved this, there is no requirement to undertake further maths or English qualifications to meet the condition of funding. Full time students with a grade 3 must still study an eligible GCSE qualification in order to meet the condition of funding. Part time students with a grade 3 can still study any qualification approved to meet the condition of funding as a stepping stone towards achieving a GCSE grade 9 to 4. This adjustment allows providers and students with prior attainment of GCSE grade 2 and below, to choose which level 2 qualification is most appropriate." the DfE web page (last updated February 13th 2019)

GCSE Condition of Funding Exemption

Students with SEND exemption
"Where a student with SEND does not hold a GCSE grade 9 to 4, A* to C or equivalent qualification in maths and/or English, an institution may decide that it is not appropriate for them to study for a GCSE or a stepping stone qualification. In this case, in addition to the student’s EHC plan, the institution must hold an evidenced assessment that the student is not able to study these subjects. All exemptions must be considered on a case by case basis. There is no blanket exemption for whole institutions."
GOV.UK Link

Home Education 14-16 College Funding

Home educated young people aged 14-16 in England are able to attend college and the Government will pay for the course. http://edyourself.org/articles/14-16collegeFAQ.php

Open University for Under-18s

Some home educated young people under the age of 18 take courses with the Open University and obtain sufficient credits either to continue with a full OU degree or to apply to a bricks and mortar university. Funding has changed in England. More information here
Tamsyn Fortune Wood: OU as route to Birmingham City University
Home Education Exams Wiki: experiences of Open University
Open University Policy Under 18s
OU Fees
Alex Dowty: OU as route to Oxford

Related Pages about Home Education and Exams

FAQ for Exam Officers External Candidates
Analysis Local Authority Help With Exams
Special Arrangements for Exams
Westminster Meetings Discussing Exams Access
Education Committee Recommendations re Exam Support
FAQ Exams for Private Candidates
Case Studies Home Education and Exams
Survey Local Authority Help with Exam Access
Removing Private Candidates from Schools Results Tables

Ofsted Guidance

Click here for Ofsted guidance on home education to inspectors, April 2015.

We recommend that the Government place a duty on every local authority to ensure access to local centres for home-educated young people to sit accredited public examinations. (Paragraph 43) Education Committee Report Support Home Education

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted: When we inspect local authorities we will be asking are local authorities supporting children at home and funding access to qualifications and examinations

PREVIOUS PAGE ARCHIVED FEBRUARY 28TH 2021, LINK HERE

Link Reference

This article is http://edyourself.org/articles/exams.php. The following links to other websites are contained in the article, displayed as citations to aid you in printing the document.

  1. Home Educators Exams Wiki http://he-exams.wikia.com/wiki/HE_Exams_Wiki
  2. this webinar http://ehe-sen.org.uk/exams.php
  3. More http://edyourself.org/articles/examsreport.php
  4. DfE explains how external candidates results don't affect schools http://edyourself.org/articles/privatecandidates.php
  5. the rules for becoming an exam centre http://www.jcq.org.uk/exams-office/general-regulations
  6. Pearson Edexcel. http://www.cie.org.uk/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-secondary-2/cambridge-igcse/
  7. the wiki Science A Level page http://he-exams.wikia.com/wiki/Science_A-levels
  8. http://he-exams.wikia.com/wiki/Science_Practicals http://he-exams.wikia.com/wiki/Science_Practicals
  9. links to http://edyourself.org/articles/hesfestalks2014.php#14-19
  10. More http://edyourself.org/faregos.pdf
  11. http://edyourself.org/articles/14-16collegeFAQ.php http://edyourself.org/articles/14-16collegeFAQ.php
  12. Tamsyn Fortune Wood: OU as route to Birmingham City University http://www.home-education.org.uk/articles/article-open-university.pdf
  13. Home Education Exams Wiki: experiences of Open University http://he-exams.wikia.com/wiki/Open_University
  14. Open University Policy Under 18s http://www.open.ac.uk/students/charter/essential-documents
  15. OU Fees http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/fees-and-funding
  16. Alex Dowty: OU as route to Oxford http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Migration/article187261.ece
  17. FAQ for Exam Officers External Candidates http://edyourself.org/articles/examofficers.php
  18. Analysis Local Authority Help With Exams http://edyourself.org/articles/examsreport.php
  19. Special Arrangements for Exams http://ehe-sen.org.uk/exams.php
  20. Westminster Meetings Discussing Exams Access http://edyourself.org/articles/allpartygrouphomeeducation.php
  21. Education Committee Recommendations re Exam Support http://edyourself.org/articles/edcomsupporthomeed.php
  22. FAQ Exams for Private Candidates http://edyourself.org/articles/examsfaq.php
  23. Case Studies Home Education and Exams http://edyourself.org/articles/examshomeedexp.php
  24. Survey Local Authority Help with Exam Access http://edyourself.org/articles/examcentresurvey.php
  25. Removing Private Candidates from Schools Results Tables http://edyourself.org/articles/privatecandidates.php
  26. Education Committee Report Support Home Education http://edyourself.org/articles/edcomsupporthomeed.php
  27. Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/Education/EdC130213CORRECTEDTRANSCRIPT.doc
  28. HERE http://edyourself.org/exams_archived.pdf