Relief or Grief? Sheffield A Level and GCSE grades to be assessed by teachers

A controversial decision to allow GCSEs and A levels to be graded by teachers has been met with lukewarm response from Sheffield pupils and parents.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson that teachers will be using mock exams, essays and coursework to determine final grades.

Many students and parents in Sheffield have mixed opinions regarding this announcement, as some feel the possibility of being graded unfairly still exists. 

This newly awarded grading system has been put in place against the disruption caused by the algorithm system last summer and the repeated closures of schools due to lockdowns. 

Mr Williamson said: “This year’s students will receive grades determined by their teachers with assessments covering what they were taught and not what they missed. “

PM, Boris Johnson said: “The new system set up is a ‘good compromise’, in the face of complaints from parents that it could see some pupils graded unfairly.

Exam boards will provide teachers with optional assessments in order for teachers to examine students’ grades. Students who choose to opt out of the May/June exams can sit for the Autumn paper which is hoped to be conducted in a traditional exam environment. 

A GCSE student studying in Tapton Secondary School Sheffield said: “Teachers assessing students based on what they were able to teach is probably the best thing to do for us. The same goes for essays as we can do them on what we actually learnt.

“However for coursework, the pressure has also been overwhelming, as there were several communication barriers and the quality of work decreased.”

Gourab Banerjee, 46, Lecturer said: “I think this is the best solution at this time though this system will have a number of issues that need to be discussed.”

When asked about the pressures and obstacles teachers may experience. He added : “It is impossible for any teacher to compare with the standard of other students nationwide. Moreover, setting a grade boundary will be very difficult hence teachers will have a very tedious job to assess a grade that reflects the true ability of the student.” 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson assured students and said : “Students will get the grade that is a true and just reflection of their work.”

Abdul Shakoor Baig, A Sheffield parent said:” I personally think this is not a good decision, as the awarding of grades can be very subjective.”

Last year several protests were organized across the country over the board’s decision to use an algorithm to determine grades which led to 40% of predicted results being downgraded.

Mr Banerjee added: “On the day of the result if there is any issue, the government will happily blame teachers thus save themselves from any political embarrassment like 2020.”

Another Sheffield GCSE student has said: “I don’t think that the new grading system will be fully beneficial. I would probably do much better in an exam then in small bits of coursework.”

Written by Ayesha Parwani

Trainee Journalist at the University of Sheffield Ted X speaker and writer for Gems Magazine,CIS newsletters (Dubai)

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