This page was published on 7th May 2020. Information will be updated as it becomes available.


On 20th March, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the cancellation of the summer 2020 exams

The government, alongside Ofqual, the exam boards, and education providers have been working  together to support students and provide the best information available. This is a new situation for everyone because it moves many of the elements of assessment from the awarding bodies to the schools and colleges.

What does this mean for NEC students?

The National Extension College (NEC) is a registered exam centre and will be able to provide centre assessed grades for our students who are eligible. NEC students will have been informed if they are eligible to be considered to receive centre assessed grades.

To produce these grades, tutors will take into account evidence from a variety of sources, including mock exams (completed under exam conditions), non-exam assessments and assignments or TMAs (tutor marked assignments). NEC will submit the grades to the awarding bodies (exam boards) and they will then be standardised. 

It is a requirement of the process that NEC cannot discuss the individual centre assessed grades with students, parents, carers, guardians or sponsors. Students should not contact tutors for this purpose as they will be unable to discuss.

What does this mean for students who cannot provide the evidence needed for a centre assessed grade?

We are aware that some students will not have submitted enough work to use as evidence for a centre assessed grade. Where this is the case, you will need to defer your examinations to the next available session.

If you have booked exams yourself through non-NEC partner centres, you will need to ask the centre to book you in to the next available session. If there is a problem with this then ask the centre to contact NEC.

If you have booked your exams through NEC we will retain your booking for the next available session. If you decide to withdraw from the exams you will need to let NEC know as soon as possible as the deadline for this has already passed.

There are also a few students who have booked their exams with NEC but are not NEC students, there will be no evidence that can be used for centre assessed grades.

Moving on to higher education

Although not all of our A level students are looking to continue into higher education, we have had many questions from students concerned about the effect this new exam structure will have on their university application. We would recommend that you contact the university you want to go to and explain your situation and follow UCAS’ coronavirus updates as they will keep you informed with all of the latest developments regarding higher education. UCAS have produced a video answering some of their most frequently asked questions: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/after-you-apply/coronavirus-covid-19/calculated-grades-your-questions-answered 

The DfE is also encouraging universities to be flexible in their admissions policies:

“Ofqual has asked organisations that represent higher and further education providers to consider the steps that providers could take when making admissions decisions this summer for any private candidates who do not receive a grade. They have said that they believe that institutions will consider a range of other evidence and information for these students to allow them to progress wherever possible.”

(Department for Education, 2020. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2020/coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2020

It is also important to point out that the grades you receive in August 2020 will:

“[…] have equal status to the grades awarded in other years and should be treated in this way by universities, colleges and employers. On the results slips and certificates, grades will be reported in the same way as in previous years.”

(Ofqual, 9th April 2020. Available: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878869/Summer_2020_grades_for_GCSE_AS_A_level_EPQ_AEA_in_maths_-_guidance_for_teachers_students_parents_UPDATED_09APR2020.pdf)

Key dates

  • Results for A levels and GCSEs will be released on 13th and 20th August respectively. 
  • Assignments submitted after the end of March may not be included in the assessment and will need to be looked at with caution. This will be determined on a case by case basis.

Definition of terms

Centre assessed grades or calculated grades means the suggested grade that we will submit to the exam boards, and is subject to confirmation. The terms predicted grades or calculated grades are also used but we prefer the term “centre assessed grades” for consistency and to avoid confusion with the predicted grades sent to universities and UCAS for higher education applications.

Non-examination assessments or NEAs is a term used to refer to coursework or an endorsement on some NEC GCSE and A level courses. This includes coursework, practical science endorsements and spoken language endorsements. More information about NEAs at the National Extension College can be found here: https://www.nec.ac.uk/non-examination-assessment/

Private candidates or independent candidates are the terms used for all students who are not being entered for the exams through a school or college. All students enrolled with NEC come into the category of private candidates. These may also be referred to as external candidates.

Tutor marked assignments orTMAs are the assignments within your course which under normal circumstances would not be examinable. On a National Extension College GCSE or A level course, there are usually ten assignments that you can submit to your tutor for marking.


These are just a few of the questions that we are receiving from our students. This will be updated as further information becomes available. Further information is available here.

Can I see the grades that NEC submits for me?

No, this information will be confidential. We will not be allowed to share this with you.

When will I receive my results?

Results for A levels and GCSEs will be released on 13th and 20th August 2020 respectively.

Can I appeal the grade I am awarded?

Under the circumstances, the normal arrangements for reviews of marking and appeals will not apply. Ofqual are considering what arrangements might be put in place to allow an effective appeal and will consult on proposals shortly. Students who feel that their grades from the summer do not reflect their ability will be able to enter for exams in the next available session. If they choose to do this, both grades will stand. NEC is waiting for clarification on whether students will need to pay entry fees again and will confirm ASAP.

We want to personally reassure you that we are doing all we can to ensure a seamless experience during this difficult period. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and to thank all of our colleagues who are working incredibly hard to serve our students with the high standards of service you expect from us. 

NEC is also working closely with both Ofqual and the awarding bodies. We have excellent relationships with these organisations and  with our partnership exam centres and will work with them to enable us to provide centre assessed grades where possible. Although every attempt will be made to operate a fair and open system, we appreciate it will not work perfectly for everyone but we hope that universities and other providers will be sympathetic and make adjustments where possible for anyone who considers they have been disadvantaged.

Useful links

The awarding bodies are working with education providers and Ofqual to provide viable solutions during this unprecedented time. Here are some useful resources where you can learn more about the centre assessed grading process.