GCSE tier entry must be appropriate to avoid students being ungraded

Sally Collier, chief regulator at Ofqual, has written the following message to stakeholders about ensuring appropriate entry to summer examinations for pupils taking their GCSEs:

"The entry deadline for the summer exams is fast approaching and schools will be making important decisions about which tier to enter students for, in those GCSE subjects that are tiered. Inappropriate entries risk leading to students being ungraded. Link here to a reminder of the advice we have previously provided to schools and colleges.

In general, a student who is expected to achieve a grade 4 or grade 5 should be entered for foundation tier. Previously, we have been aware that some membership organisations recommend the opposite, but that puts students at risk of missing out on a grade (two grades for combined science) if they do not perform as well as expected.

There is a ‘safety net’ grade on the higher tier, for those who just miss a grade 4 (4-4 on combined science) but it is narrower than a normal grade, and students will receive an ungraded result if they miss that.

A grade 4 gained on the foundation tier is the same as a grade 4 gained on the higher tier, and this is also the case for grade 5. Exam boards are required to make sure that it is no easier or more difficult to achieve a grade 4 or 5 on higher or foundation tier. There is nothing on certificates that details the tier of entry.

More information about what schools should bear in mind when thinking about summer entries can be found on the Ofqual blog."