25th February 2021

Education Policy Institute responds to the government’s plans for 2021 grades

Today (Thursday 25th February), following submissions to the Department for Education and Ofqual consultation, the government has confirmed its approach for awarding grades to students in summer 2021.

Commenting on the government’s plan for 2021 grades, Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:

“While the government was right to opt for teacher assessed grades following the massive disruption to students’ learning, our concern is that significant risks remain with its approach set out today.

“There is still a very high risk that we will see inconsistences in the grades among different pupils and schools. Without timely and detailed guidance for schools on how this year’s grades should be benchmarked against previous years, and with classroom assessments only being optional, there is a significant risk that schools will take very different approaches to grading.

“This could result in large numbers of pupils appealing their grades this year or extremely high grade inflation, which could be of little value to colleges, universities, employers and young people themselves.”


David Laws, Executive Chairman of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:

“Schools will be relieved at last to have the details on how they are expected to grade students this year, but we are still yet to see in the government’s plans how it intends to tackle the risk of excessive grade inflation.

“Without robust mechanisms in place which anchor the overall results at a level which is consistent with previous years, there is a danger that the value and credibility of this year’s grades are seriously undermined.

“The government has indicated that exam boards will apply checks and monitoring, but we also need a strong and risk-based quality assurance process which is able to scrutinise any results which look clearly out of line with previous years.”