I am filled with admiration for the way students and teachers across all subjects have adapted to remote learning and particularly proud of the way our chemistry community has supported them in continuing to provide opportunities to experience a rich and rewarding education.
There has been understandable negative reaction from students, parents and teachers around the awarding of grades this year. The decision to not issue BTEC grades at the last minute – some of which were announced last week – leaves yet more students worrying about their futures.
We hope that the decision to award Centre Assessment Grades proves fairer and better supports the progression of students in their chosen pathways. We will continue to monitor the impact of these decisions across our community, recognising that while these changes have been made to support students, they may lead to new challenges elsewhere.
I would like to wish all students the very best of luck with their future studies in the chemical sciences, whether at A-level or on a vocational pathway.
What should I do now?
If you are thinking about choosing chemistry for the next stage of your learning, take a look at our Future in Chemistry careers pages and find out about student membership.
The #NoWrongPath campaign is a social media movement which aims to provide inspiration and reassurance to young people receiving their exam results.
For A-level and Highers students BTEC Level 3 UCAS have an advice and information page on clearing.
The National Careers Service runs an Exam Results Helpline for students who want advice on their next steps, including appeals and autumn exams. The helpline is free and is open until 28 August, from 8 am to 10 pm, 7 days a week on 0800 100 900.
Skills Development Scotland runs a free results helpline – 0808 100 8000 – are offering careers advice, information and guidance. Support and advice is also available on the SQA website and on BBC Bitesize. Young people can also call Childline on 0800 1111 or get advice about exam results on its website.
How have grades been calculated this year?
Students have still been awarded results for their qualifications this summer, and the method for doing this was broadly similar across the UK. In each nation, teachers were asked to use their professional judgement to evaluate all the evidence they had for each student’s performance and submit a grade – these are referred to as estimated grades in Scotland and Centre Assessment Grades (CAG) in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. In Scotland, teachers were asked to place students within refined bands, subdivisions of existing bands, within each grade.
Alongside the CAGs or estimated grades, centres were asked to produce a rank order for students within each grade, or refined band in Scotland.
In England, teachers were additionally asked to use their professional judgement as to whether students would have passed the A-level practical endorsement, on the basis of evidence from the practical work they had already completed.
In each nation, grades that had been provided by centres were standardised using a statistical model, to take into account other information, including historical outcomes at both centre and national level.
Using the method above, National 5, Higher, Advanced Higher, AS and A level results were issued to students. For each qualification, there was an increase in outcomes at national cohort level. However, there was considerable concern about the fairness of this system for individual students, and consequently the grades that these students had been issued.
Grades have now been withdrawn for Scottish, AS and A level students. These students are in the process of being reissued their Centre Assessment Grade, or if this was upgraded by the process of statistical standardisation, the higher grade.
GCSE students are receiving either their Centre Assessment Grade, or calculated grade, whichever is higher today.
There is still a great deal of uncertainty for students who have sat Level 1, 2 and 3 BTEC qualifications; they are now due to receive their results on 25th August after a last minute decision not to issue these grades on GCSE results day.