Use of advanced information and support materials in summer 2021 general qualifications

ASCL response to the Ofqual consultation on the use of advanced information and support materials in summer 2021 general qualifications. 
While we broadly agree with the proposals to release information on which topics will or
will not appear in GCSE, AS and A-level exams, and the use of exam aids in some subjects,
we do not believe that these changes alone will adequately address the differential learning
loss of candidates next summer.

Learning loss has not been uniform across regions, within centres, and between individual
candidates. Some candidates next summer will have received significantly less classroom
teaching than others, as a result of the pandemic, and through no fault of themselves or their
schools. While pre-release of information allows students and their teachers to focus their
learning revision in the final months, as it is provided to all candidates equally, it does not
address this issue of fairness.

ASCL, along with other unions and professional associations, has continually suggested
greater optionality at a paper or topic level, as a way to mitigate for differential lost learning.
The principle of this is that candidates are assessed on content for which they have studied,
thus allowing them to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the exams. Optionality at a
topic level has already been confirmed for GCSE English literature and history. ASCL does
not believe that Ofqual has yet made a compelling argument to either the sector or the wider
public as to why this cannot happen in more qualifications.

Full response to consultation