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Exam Conditions: Consistency and quality assurance in 2021 exams, with AQA CEO Colin Hughes

As we’re now well into the swing of the Summer term, the end is firmly – and finally – in sight for our GCSE and A Level students. Unfortunately for many, that goal post can still seem a little blurry. We know that, like last year, disrupted and unequal access to schooling has resulted in the cancellation of exams. We also know that teachers will be making the assessment of grades. But just what are the implications for our young people?

This week we’re looking at the alternative arrangements for grading, and what it means for students. 

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Nathan McGurl, Founder of The Study Buddy is joined by Colin Hughes – the Chief Exec of AQA. AQA is England’s largest provider of academic qualifications – setting the exams for around half of all GCSEs and A Levels. Before joining AQA in June 2020, Colin was the Managing Director of publisher Collins Learning and has also chaired the Education Publishers’ Council.

This episode touches on questions of consistency and quality assurance in the 2021 exam series. A frank and open conversation with the head of one of the UK’s largest exam boards. 

Our young people have had a trying few months. It can be difficult enough for teens for motivate themselves at the best of times when there is a definite end point of an exam. While our students understand the situation, it is fair to say that many feel that they have more questions than answers, when it comes to the detail of how they will get a grade this summer. One of the issues that comes up again and again is the question of consistency. It isn’t helped by media and rumour mill giving fuel to the fear that other schools or teachers will be more generous of lenient that their own.


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