Ensuring the resilience of the qualifications system

Closed 2 Aug 2023

Opened 10 May 2023


Exams and formal assessments went ahead in 2022 for the first time since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and are expected to continue, as normal, from now on. This has been widely welcomed as exams and other formal assessments remain the best and fairest way of assessing what students know, understand and can do.

The government does not expect to be in the situation again where exams do not go ahead. However, it remains good public policy to have contingency arrangements, even for extremely unlikely scenarios.

For the 2023 exam series, resilience arrangements have been put in place. Ofqual provided guidance for schools and colleges on how to gather evidence of student performance in GCSE, AS, A level, Project Qualifications and Advanced Extension Award in maths that could be used to determine a grade in the unlikely event that exams and assessment are not able to go ahead as planned. The arrangements for 2023 were a step down from the arrangements of 2021 and 2022, and were designed to minimise burden on schools and colleges.

This consultation is split into 2 parts. Part 1 of the consultation seeks views on the proposal that long-term resilience arrangements be in place for GCSE, AS and A level, Project qualifications and AEA in maths, and on specific guidance for gathering evidence of student performance to support resilience in the exam system for these specific qualifications. As with arrangements in 2023, the proposals seek to minimise the burden on schools and colleges, and students, through the use of existing internal assessment arrangements as far as possible.

The consultation also invites views on proposals to require all awarding organisations to consider whether it is necessary to have resilience arrangements in place for their qualifications, and, where necessary, provide guidance to centres on gathering evidence of student performance to support resilience. Given the wide variety of Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQs), the proposed resilience arrangements would not be appropriate for all.

For VTQs used alongside or instead of GCSEs, AS and A levels for progression to further or higher study, however, the proposal is that similar arrangements should be put in place. This would include Technical Qualifications within T Levels. We do not propose to develop common guidance for these qualifications as any guidance would need to take into account the design of each qualification. We do, however, note that awarding organisations should consider the proposed guidance for general qualifications and can draw on it or reproduce it wherever appropriate.

For other VTQs, which assess occupational or professional competence, proficiency, or act as a licence to practise, these resilience arrangements would not apply.

Part 1 of the consultation has been prepared jointly by the Department for Education and Ofqual given their respective responsibilities in this area. Any analysis of responses to this part of the consultation will be undertaken jointly.

Part 2 seeks views on the regulatory changes that would be required to put these proposals in place. Part 2 has been produced solely by Ofqual as the regulator of exams and assessments in England, in line with its responsibilities. Responses to Part 2 of this consultation will be analysed only by Ofqual, and Ofqual will make all decisions in relation to these matters.

What happens next

Your response has been submitted - thank you for completing the consultation

This information will now be analysed and the findings will be published on our website.

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  • Students
  • Parents and carers
  • Teachers
  • Schools and colleges
  • Regulated awarding organisations
  • Public


  • GCSEs
  • AS and A levels