Students facing uncertainty as GCSE and A Level exams cancelled by coronavirus

Millions of teenagers are facing huge uncertainty over exams after their A levels and GCSEs were cancelled.

GCSEs and A Levels will be awarded using teacher assessment where they put forward the grade they believe students would have achieved if they had sat the exams.

The government says the results will be released on the usual results day, with a chance for students to resit their exams if necessary.

  • How will it work?

Within each number or letter grade they award schools and colleges will have to put students in rank order.

Students at the top and bottom of rankings are most likely to have grades changed.

The regulatory body Ofqual has already warned schools and colleges against inflating grades.

They'll be looking at the past performance of a school or college as one indicator of where their students should be.

  • WATCH: A Level student Leo Buckley reflects on the new system

I'm optimistic about my prospects...although we try and keep ourselves happy, there has been a lot of stress and a lot of stress and worry to come."

Leo Buckley

It's quite stressful now because we can't control what our grades are going to be. The thing with exams is that you get a definite grade that you know that you worked for but with this there is a lot more room for error. Teachers can be more lenient or harsher - and I think that's where it starts to be unfair for us."

Amy Gaisford, GCSE Student

Deputy headteacher Tom Sellen from King Ethelbert School at Birchington-on-Sea in Kent said schools collect a huge amount of data on students throughout their school careers so deciding overall grades is a relatively straightforward task for teachers. But there are concerns over the ranking of students.

"Essentially what you are doing is telling the DfE and Ofqual if you are going to move students down these are the ones you are going to move down. It is a difficult process. You have to just be totally fair about it."

It doesn't take account of is the pupils who have modified their behaviours more recently - who have given up a part-time job now to concentrate on their studies, the ones who may have thought 'my mock result was very disappointing, I am going to do much more work'."

Dr Dorian Lewis, Bournemouth Grammar School

Headmaster Dr Dorian Lewis from Bournemouth Grammar School said the so-called "calculated grades" will work best for those who have worked consistently throughout their courses - and last-minute crammers could lose out.

"The biggest question is is it fair? I'm confident that we know our pupils well - we've assessed their progress over time and have enough experience to make a judgement that is fair.

"It doesn't take account of is the pupils who have modified their behaviours more recently - who have given up a part-time job now to concentrate on their studies, the ones who may have thought 'my mock result was very disappointing, I am going to do much more work',or perhaps the ones who think they can cram and cram and cram right up to the exam and then they effectively will overperform.

"They won't think it's fair."

The government has said that the release of calculated grades will be on August 13th for A Levels and August 20th for GCSEs. Unlike in previous years there will be no opportunity to appeal grades. Instead, students will be able to sit exams in the Autumn but as yet it is unclear whether that will be for all subjects or how exam boards might organise it.

  • WATCH: Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford discusses how students will be affected mentally with Dr Emma Maynard

Psychologist Dr Emma Maynard from the University of Portsmouth says exam year pupils - who will almost certainly end up being out of education for six or seven months - should try and keep their brains stimulated and active.

She says many young people are going through almost a grieving process for the experiences they have lost.

"From the time these children have started school assessment has been such an important part of their education. We do it from age 4. The emphasis on assessment is pretty huge so suddenly to have that pulled away is extremely stressful.

"Older teens - they have been suddenly finding themselves without all those markers, those rites of passage on leaving school or college - it's enormously stressful for them. "