Among the Ofqual grading 2021 advice, teachers are told not to let sympathy for their pupils affect the way they decide final grades.
One potential issue with teacher-assessed grades is bias. It’s hard to avoid when you have a rapport with pupils but teachers are being encouraged to “do the right thing” when they award GCSE and A-level grades this year and distribute assessment grades “dispassionately”.
At the Confederation of School Trusts’ (CST) conference, Ofqual chair Ian Bauckham urged teachers to not let their biases and sympathy for pupils influence the final grades. He acknowledges that it is “hard” but insists “it must be the right way”.
He said: “The mark of professionalism for us as teachers and educational leaders is to set aside our personal feelings, not allow ourselves to be influenced by other individuals, or by our own aspirations or sympathies for individual pupils and make our judgements dispassionately and objectively – that is what doing the right thing really means.
“It can, of course, be hard, but it must be the right way.
“Teachers are, of course, among the most respected and trusted roles in society, and the level of public respect for them has only increased over the past year,”.
Ofqual Grading 2021: Teachers ‘will rise to the challenge’
The Ofqual chair encouraged teachers to consider the function of GCSEs and why they need to be a true reflection of the pupil’s ability.
He said: “If qualifications do not tell the truth about their holders’ abilities, that is not only eroding the value of hard-won outcomes for young people but actually we risk sending them to destinations in an FE, university, post-16 courses and training programmes which are not right for them, risking later drop-out and potentially [depriving] others who would have been better qualified and better suited for those destinations,”.
Bauckham acknowledged that all teachers are concerned about quality assurance standards in all schools.
He responded: “That integrity, which is at the heart of teacher professionalism, means that teachers overwhelmingly want to undertake this year’s important work fairly and honestly. But they will also, quite reasonably, want to know that every one of their colleagues in other schools is acting with the same degree of integrity.”
The chief executive of the CST, Leora Cruddas followed up and said:”In a second exceptional year, teachers and leaders are engaging in a responsible and professional way with the significant challenge of awarding qualifications in the absence of public examinations. We do not underestimate the scale and complexity of this task.
“The important thing to remember, as Ian Bauckham identifies, is that teachers are professionals, trusted by the public. Mr Bauckham is right to say that this means two things.
“Firstly, that professional judgement is not inappropriately influenced by those outside who may have a vested interest. And secondly, that it is undertaken following proper training and established policies.
“It is most important, in this year in which our young people’s education has been so disrupted, that they have confidence in the qualifications they receive. I have no doubt, no matter how difficult, that teachers and leaders will rise to this challenge.”
Teachers may find it more difficult to deliver final grades because they have built a rapport with their pupils. All teachers can do is mark on the evidence we have without considering anything else. To do it properly sympathy must be taken out of the equation.
Don’t forget to read even more of our blogs here! You can also subscribe to Beyond for access to thousands of secondary teaching resources. You can sign up for a free account here and take a look around at our free resources before you subscribe too.