Here’s why BTec results have been delayed - and how grades will be calculated

Thursday, 20th August 2020, 2:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th August 2020, 2:21 pm
The exam board is regrading all of the results (Photo: Shutterstock)

Thousands of young people across England were awarded their GCSE results on Thursday (20 August), with grades surging to a record high this year.

A last-minute U-turn from the government, which came after almost 40 per cent of A level results were downgraded last week, has meant that results could be based on teachers’ estimated grades after exams were forced to be cancelled.

However, around 200,000 BTec pupils are still awaiting their final results.

When will BTec results be out?

BTec results day has been delayed after exam board Pearson announced it was pulling results on the eve of their planned release of Thursday (20 August).

The move affects 450,000 pupils, 250,000 of whom received their grades last week.

The exam board apologised for the changes and acknowledged the uncertainty the decision would cause to pupils.

Pearson has not yet confirmed when the final results for BTec pupils will be released.

Why have results been delayed?

Pearson said the last-minute decision to delay is to allow it to regrade all of the results to bring them in line with A levels and GCSEs, which have now been awarded based on teacher assessments.

The late decision will cause significant disruption to those who are seeking to secure places in further and higher education, with universities across the UK already struggling to cope with the impact of the grade changes on their admissions process.

BTec grades were not included in the government U-turn on exam grades, but on Wednesday (19 August), just hours before results day, examiner Pearson said it would regrade the results to “address concerns about unfairness”.

In a statement, Pearson said: “BTec qualification results have been generally consistent with teacher and learner expectations, but we have become concerned about unfairness in relation to what are now significantly higher outcomes for GCSE and A levels.”

Some 38,000 pupils who took Cambridge Technicals, run by exam board OCR, have also been affected by the review. However, the board let schools know about this on Tuesday (18 August), with these results now due to be issued on 25 August.

How have grades been calculated?

GCSE and A level pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were originally awarded a moderated grade, which was calculated using an algorithm based largely on schools’ previous results.

The system resulted in schools in more disadvantaged areas being penalised, while those in private schools benefitted, with more than 40 per cent of A level pupils being downgraded when results were released last week (13 August).

In response to the outcry from pupils across the country, the government agreed that pupils can now instead be awarded their school or college estimated grade, or the moderated grade from exam regulator Ofqual - whichever is the highest.

The proportion of GCSE entries in England awarded top grades surged to a record high following the U-turn, with more than one in four (25.9 per cent) scoring one of the three top grades this year.

As for BTec pupils, they will have a longer wait before finding out their final results.

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesman said it understood pupils’ frustration at the delay, but stressed that awarding organisations had taken more time to ensure pupils weren't inadvertently left worse off due to the switch to centre-assessed grades.

The DfE said: "Critically no students will see their result downgraded as a result of the review, so results already issued will either stay the same or improve."