Today marks the start of the academic summer term where many parents and students are facing the challenge and uncertainty of school closures, home educating, and cancelled exams. The impact of the pandemic on education has been immense, however measures have been put in place to support children and families through these changes.
Students facing examinations this year have arguably been most affected by the changes in education settings. The Government has announced that, as examinations have been cancelled, students due to sit GCSE’s, AS and A-levels this summer will instead receive calculated grades.
To address concerns that grades for students from disadvantaged backgrounds may be under-predicted, Ofqal, the independent qualifications regulator, is developing detailed process that will take into account a broad range of evidence, including assessments by schools and colleges, non-exam assessments and mock results.
Examiners do have experience of calculating grades in this way for a small number of students who each year are unable to complete their examinations. However, to ensure this can be delivered effectively on such a large scale, Ofqal has launched a consultation on how to make this process as fair as possible, which runs until 29 April, and is available here. I am engaging with Surrey County Council, our Local Education Authority, and our local University, Royal Holloway, for their views on these proposals.
Students who feel their calculated grade does not reflect their ability will have the opportunity to sit an exam as soon as possible once education settings have reopened.
For those facing the challenge of home educating, the Government has worked closely with the education sector to provide support and guidance, along with a list of online educational resources. This resource, with information for children of all ages, is available on the Government’s information for parents webpage here. This includes specific advice for parents and carers looking after children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Guidance for schools has also been published, and is available here. Schools are having to respond to the current crisis, providing education on site for the children of key workers, support for vulnerable families and tailored online learning, often with reduced resources due to staff being affected by the coronavirus. I would like to thank all staff working in education settings for the work they are doing to ensure all children still receive access to education during this time.