By Martin Hodge, Senior Professional Officer (Policy)
The Department for Education has announced that 2021’s “GCSE, AS and A level exams in 2021 will go ahead, with most exams moved back 3 weeks next year to give students more time to prepare and a chance to catch up on education lost due to COVID-19”, and that this will be “underpinned by contingencies for all possible scenarios”.
The Government and Ofqual will ‘engage’ “closely with the school and further education leaders, teachers, exam boards, unions and the higher education sector. The results of this planning and ongoing discussions with the sector will be published later in the Autumn”. We will take part in these discussions and report back to members.
We have been pleased to play our part and entered into dialogue with the DfE and other unions, but are deeply distressed that none of the alternatives expressed are being considered. Instead, the Government is relying on a three-week delay to the exam season to make up for months of disruption and lost learning.
There has been much made of the £1billion catch-up fund and the tutoring scheme, but as yet we have seen little evidence of it in practice, let alone been able to judge its efficacy.
And we want to know how all of this is going to impact in the classroom. What will this now mean for teachers and support staff? What will be the effect on their workload? And those who are the most at risk – the vulnerable and those with SEND, how will they possibly achieve in such an unfair landscape?
We are thankful that a decision has been made, and we are committed to working with Ofqual on this, but we implore the Government to think again and consider plans B and C, and provide that reassurance the sector definitely needs, just in case.
Do let us know your thoughts in the comments below or by email so they can inform our discussions with the Government and Ofqual.