Coronavirus Update for Year 11 Parents/ Carers
I am writing to you today as I know many of you may have questions regarding Year 11 examinations and how this may affect careers plans moving forward. I am also writing to say at this stage, not knowing how the Coronavirus crisis will unfold, we very much hope that we will be able to see Year 11 students before they leave us! It was a pleasure to read so many social media messages from Year 11 students at the weekend as a team of staff, we are already missing them greatly!
In case you are not aware, the latest communication from the government has confirmed that 2020 exams have been cancelled to give students, parents, and teachers certainty, and enable schools to focus on supporting vulnerable children and the children of key workers. The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer.
The Government’s priority is now to ensure affected students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including going into employment, college or sixth form courses, or an apprenticeship in the autumn.
This means ensuring GCSE students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to. Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible, and will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students. The exam boards will be asking our staff, who know obviously know our students well, to submit our judgement about the grade that we believe each student would have received if exams had gone ahead.
To produce this, teachers will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment – clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly will be provided to us. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in.
Ofqual and exam boards will be discussing this matter with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that it is as fair as possible. More information will be provided as soon as possible.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has given the following statement regarding this:
“Cancelling exams is something no Education Secretary would ever want to do, however these are extraordinary times and this measure is a vital but unprecedented step in the country’s efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.
My priority now is to ensure no young person faces a barrier when it comes to moving onto the next stage of their lives – whether that’s further or higher education, an apprenticeship or a job.
I have asked exam boards to work closely with the teachers who know their pupils best to ensure their hard work and dedication is rewarded and fairly recognised.
We recognise that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they haven’t been able to sit their exams. If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once schools are open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.
There is a very wide range of different vocational and technical qualifications as well as other academic qualifications for which students were expecting to sit exams this summer. These are offered by a large number of awarding organisations, and have differing assessment approaches – in many cases students will already have completed modules or non-exam assessment which could provide evidence to award a grade. We are encouraging these organisations to show the maximum possible flexibility and pragmatism to ensure students are not disadvantaged. Ofqual is working urgently with the sector to explore options and we will work with them to provide more details shortly.”
Finally, further to the information we sent out on a letter last week re-Careers contacts, I wanted to inform you that we have created a new “Careers” tab on our website which will be regularly updated with useful information from now on. This will contain links to websites for colleges and apprenticeships plus general career information and advice. We are also working on creating links to short courses and certificates, which can then be added to Year 11 Record of Achievement folders. Hard copies of CVs Year 11 students have been working on and ROA folders will be delivered or posted to students this week.
If you have any further questions or anxieties regarding this letter, please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.