Parents should not pressurise teachers, but trust their judgement as they award GCSE and A-level grades this summer, says England’s exams regulator.
For the second year running, teachers’ grades will be used following the cancellation of exams due to Covid-19.
Simon Lebus, acting head of Ofqual, said teachers’ judgement was considered to be “pretty reliable”.
But he urged parents not to put teachers under pressure or make them “uncomfortable” over grade decisions.
The acting chief regulator was giving evidence to the Commons Education Select Committee on Tuesday.
He told MPs: “We’ve created a system in which I think there are good incentives to allow teacher judgment to flourish and we’ve all got to play our part to support that.”
He added: “I also think it’s very important that parents give teachers the space to do it, because it’s always a worry that parents get terribly involved and teachers feel uncomfortable and there’s an intrusive interest so I think that’s a really important point.”
England’s Schools Minister Nick Gibb, who also appeared before the committee, said there were no plans to get rid of exams on a permanent basis, following two years of cancelled assessments due to the pandemic.
Mr Gibb denied suggestions that exams could be phased out and said “I absolutely can confirm” that they would be kept in future years.
“What we have learnt is that exams are the fairest way of judging the attainment and ability and work of students and we want to get back to exams as soon as possible.”
Mr Gibb told MPs that, up until 4 January exams were going ahead – with various systems in place to account for the disruption to learning.
“It was only after the decision to close schools to most pupils from January, that we decided that the unfairness was too great.”
Asked about the extra pressure on teachers this year, especially in terms of awarding grades for GCSEs and A-levels, Mr Gibb acknowledged that they had “shouldered a huge burden” and that the Department for Education was “conscious of workload”.
Ian Bauckham, acting chair of Ofqual, said teachers were being asked to “step up and do more than they usually have to do by playing a significant part in the determination of grades”.
“We need to make sure the exam boards give them the structures and incentives to do the job, they can see needs doing, well.
“And I think that being clear that everyone will be subject to the same quality assurance, the same checks – that gives confidence to do the right thing in each individual circumstance.”
He said these structures would help teachers not to “bow to the various pressures that they will undoubtedly come under” from pupils and parents.
Mr Baukham said it was up to senior leadership teams in school to make sure teachers got the “support and structure they needed”.
Mr Gibb also told MPs that it was “good to see children back in school” this week in England.
Asked about Covid testing, the minister said that a negative PCR test would not over-rule a positive lateral flow test taken by a pupil in school under supervision, but would over-rule a lateral flow test done at home.