Guest Blog - Open Drama UK response to BTEC grade boundary changes 2019
As you may be aware, Pearson have changed the grade boundaries for the Level 2 BTEC Tech Award qualifications. Results are issued to students this Wednesday.
This situation regarding the change of grade boundaries so close to results day is unacceptable. We’ve put together some advice to support teachers on what you can do next.
Some important points to note.
- Sadly, there is a limited amount that can be done. It is significant that the original letter was addressed to the students, not the teachers or course leaders. If your school agrees, you can challenge the results as with any other enquiry about results, however a challenge for your whole cohort is likely to be costly.
- This change has been made to all BTEC qualification and not just Performing Arts. It may feel like it, but this is not an attack on Performing Arts by Pearson.
- Please bear in mind that Paul Webster is the Subject Leader for Performing Arts. He is NOT in charge of assessment. He will do his best to support teachers with their queries, but this will not have been his decision.
- Some centres have been advised that they can apply for a ‘replacement grade’. Unfortunately this is not applicable to Performing Arts.
What you can do next.
- We advise that you speak to your Quality Nominee. If your centre teaches more than one BTEC, speak to the other teachers who are affected by this. Contacting Pearson as a school may be more effective than individual teachers contacting them about their class.
- If your Quality Nominee has not received the communication, they should contact Pearson asap.
- If you believe that this has negatively impacted on your students, make a formal complaint to Pearson. You can do this here: https://support.pearson.com/uk/s/qualification-contactus Again, we advise that this is completed as a school rather than by individual subject teachers if this has affected more than one course.
- If you have a performance management target based on BTEC data and outcomes, speak to your line manager to make sure they are aware of the situation and make contact with your union.
- The next step after a complaint to Pearson is a complaint to Ofqual. Ofqual will not review complaints from schools about exam boards/student grades until the exam board complaints process has been exhausted. You can contact Ofqual at [email protected]. They have issued a response to the situation already which can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/response-to-pearson-changes-to-btec-grading-criteria-2019
How you can support your students.
- The letter has been sent to exams officers to include with student results. This may need explaining to them on results day. It would be worth contacting your SLT/Head/QN to see who will be available to do this on the day.
- If your students have not received the grade they needed for their college/post-16 place, get them to make contact on results day to find out if they have lost out on their place. With the media coverage and colleges who offer Level 2 courses, it is a possibility they are aware of the situation and may accept the students despite their grade.
- If any of your students have lost their college place, you could write a letter advocating on behalf of the student. If you do this, make sure you include details of what grade they would have received against the originally published grade boundaries.
Open Drama will also be contacting Pearson and Ofqual about the changes to the grade boundaries. If you have any comments you would like to share with us for our response, please e-mail [email protected] or contact us through our Facebook page Open Drama UK or on Twitter @open_drama_uk.
The story has made the national press and the articles can be seen here:
Schools Week: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/pearson-hikes-grade-boundaries-for-btec-tech-awards/
Schools Week: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/ofqual-significant-lessons-to-be-learned-from-pearsons-btec-tech-awards-grade-boundaries-saga/
The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/aug/19/outrage-after-grade-boundaries-for-new-btec-qualification-raised
ASCL have also published a press release which can be read here: https://www.ascl.org.uk/news-and-views/news_news-detail.ascl-comment-on-changes-to-btec-tech-award-grade-boundaries.html
Many of you may have changed to BTEC after similar negative experiences with GCSEs. Performing Arts subjects are in decline in schools and under threat in education in general, and we must work together to help support each other as these things happen year on year.
Right now, clear your heads, consider your options for next steps and sign up to the OPEN DRAMA networks so we can band together and create a strong, united voice in education. We are all nervous about the results; let’s continue to support each other!