Ofsted Director calls predicting grades for new exams a “very imprecise science”, asking inspectors not to request them

In a letter to all inspectors, Sean Harford, Ofsted’s National Director for Education, asked them not to request predictions for cohorts about to take examinations.

Mr Harford admitted the new English and mathematics GCSEs, as well as the first set of new A-levels, will bring a much higher level of uncertainty this summer, calling predicting results for them “a mug’s game”.

In a move to reassure school leaders and teachers that schools will only be asked how they assessed pupil progress,  the Ofsted Director wrote in his most recent update to all inspectors:

Ofsted does not expect any prediction by schools of a progress score, as they are
aware that this information will not be possible to produce due to the way progress
measures at both KS2 and KS4 are calculated. Inspectors should understand from all
training and recent updates that there is no national expectation of any particular
amount of progress from any starting point.

‘Expected progress’ was a DfE accountability measure until 2015. Inspectors must not use this term when referring to progress for 2016 or current pupils.

Mr Harford makes reference to an Ofqual blog article which sets out “the pitfalls of predicting” for GCSEs and A-levels. You can read “Grade boundaries: the problem with predictions” by Cath Jadhav here.

Sean Harford’s article about inspection and the use of grade predictions is available here.

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