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GCSEs and A-Levels could move online in major changes discussed by Ofqual UK News

England’s exams regulator is to explore the use of online testing as part of plans for major changes over the next three years.

It is believed the move could be the first step on the way to GCSEs and A Levels online.

Ofqual said it will explore the use of online adaptive testing – where digital exams automatically adapt to a candidate’s level of ability.

The regulator said that over the next three years it will explore new approaches to assessment, including the use of technology, working with review boards to “explore the role of adaptive testing.”

Ofqual added that it will “remove regulatory hurdles where innovation promotes valid and effective assessment”.

It plans to oversee the reintroduction of comprehensive public examinations in 2022, while being “ready to implement emergency arrangements if necessary”.

Education officials ‘thrilled’ with new approaches to exams

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the move away from “Fort Knox-style security arrangements” for exams.

“We are delighted that Ofqual is considering new approaches to exams, including the use of technology, and that it intends to work with certification bodies to this end,” he said.

“Our current reliance on a paper-and-pen examination system, organized on an industrial scale with Fort Knox-type security features around the transportation and storage of papers, is hopelessly outdated and ripe for a reform,” he added.

He said the pandemic had revealed how “vulnerable” the rating system was to unexpected events.

“If online assessment had been available, it might not have been necessary to cancel all summer exams for two consecutive years,” he said.

The Covid pandemic has highlighted the reason for looking for new ways to perform exams

Ofqual chairman Ian Bauckham said: “The pandemic has rightly catalyzed questions not if, but when and how greater use of technology and on-screen assessment should be adopted.

“Any proposed changes must be carefully assessed for their impact on students, including those with special educational needs and disabilities.”

Chief Regulator Dr Jo Saxton said the plan expressed his “personal commitment that the interests of students and apprentices will be the compass that guides us in every decision and action”.

She added: “They will be our true north. I know the power of qualifications from my own personal experience and from my time working on the front lines in schools in some of the most deprived areas of the country.

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This notice was published: 2022-05-04 10:16:42

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