Deloitte review of CCEA's alternative awarding arrangements in 2020

Published: 21/01/2021, 1:25pm

The Department of Education has today published an independent report on the review of the alternative awarding of CCEA’s 2020 summer GCSE, AS and A level examinations. The review, which was carried out by Deloitte over a six-week period in the autumn, analysed CCEA’s awarding methodology including design, implementation, management and communication of the arrangements.

From the outset the review recognised that CCEA’s job was "extremely challenging" but that working closely with its Council and the Department of Education it "adopted a professional approach to the unprecedented task in hand".

It also acknowledged that without examinations it was always going to be "extremely difficult" to find a balance of maintaining standards and arriving at grade outcomes accepted as fair by teachers, parents and students. In fact, the report states that there was "no perfect solution" and the conclusion was that with no alternative approaches to those identified by CCEA and approved by DE that all involved recognised the need to move forward on the basis of the "least worst" option.

The report also noted CCEA’s "determination and dedication" to provide an approach which would include "fairness, reducing the burden, future impact limitation, minimising uncertainty, standardisation and alignment across UK jurisdictions".

In recognising the many positive factors about CCEA’s work the report also outlined a number of learnings from the process. For example, the need for continual review and challenge of design decisions; provision of guidance and support on moderation; more formal risk assessments of options; more clarity on the standardisation process; a more appropriate appeals process.

Whilst earlier and more regular engagement with stakeholders was recommended the report acknowledged that given the time available CCEA did carry out constructive dialogue with key stakeholders.

CCEA’s Chairperson Trevor Carson commented, "We welcome the findings of this report for several reasons. The review process itself was a valuable exercise in enabling us to focus both from an internal and external perspective on every aspect of our systems and approach through a most challenging period. The report provided reassurance that we have robust governance and management structures in place to deliver our statutory objectives. It also highlighted that in the unprecedented circumstances presented in 2020 that staff worked at pace and with flexibility and determination."

"As an organisation which promotes learning we in turn have taken a number of very useful lessons from the report. Many elements have already been integrated into the contingency planning in which we have been engaged for some months."

"Now that the Education Minister has formally announced the cancellation of exams again for the 2021 academic year we are fully focused on providing alternative arrangements which not only address the issues highlighted in the report, thereby building confidence in the qualifications but which also continue to embrace the overarching principle of fairness for all students."

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