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Education and outreach

IOP voices concerns about impact of teacher-assessed grades on physics students

26 February 2021

The government’s plans for exams are ‘still only the least worst solution’.


It is right that physics students will be marked based on what they have learnt, but the IOP is concerned the government’s new system of teacher-assessed grades could lead to bias – harming disadvantaged young people.

Responding to yesterday’s announcement by the Department for Education (DfE) on GCSE and A-level results for 2021, the IOP said it is concerned about bias in grade awarding for physics.

Bias, either conscious or unconscious, can have a negative impact on young people, particularly on those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and this situation could further increase existing inequalities in education outcomes.

IOP director of policy and public affairs, Tony McBride, said: “Despite dropping the algorithm and bringing forward results day, this is still only the least worst solution, and schools will likely be inundated with appeals when students receive their grades. 

“With the onus of awarding grades now resting entirely on teachers, it presents a stark capacity problem, as many schools in England are already understaffed and under-resourced.

“Ultimately this extra responsibility will reduce the time available to teachers to focus on teaching their students.”

Read our full response to the DfE and Ofqual's plans (PDF, 146KB).