Following the Prime Minister’s announcement at 8pm on Monday that GCSE exams will not take place this summer ‘in the normal way’, we understand that there will be lots of questions in the community. This is especially true due to some of the unhelpful headlines in today’s media stating that exams are cancelled.
Although the Prime Minister did say that ‘it is not possible or fair for exams to go ahead this summer’ he importantly added ‘as normal’. Immediately following this he said that Ofqual – the nation’s examination regulator – would be working to put in place ‘alternative arrangements’. Therefore, it would be reckless to proceed as if exams are cancelled.
At present it is not clear what these alternative arrangements are, but you can rest assured that we will update you as soon as we know. There will likely be many rumours about what will happen, but we encourage you to be wary of anything that has not been officially published by Ofqual.
We do not know specifically what this will mean but it seems reasonable to expect that students will receive grades based on a similar system to 2020. As you might be aware this involved teachers assessing performance using class and homework, coursework, mock exam results and other evidence. However, as it stands currently, we do not know what this means and the public examinations scheduled for January, are set to continue as planned. We are expecting updates from JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) and the DfE (Department for Education) in the coming days and as and when we get these, we will of course update you. We are aware of the shock and disappointment this news will bring. The government has consistently told students, parents and teachers that exams ‘would happen this year’ and we all planned on this basis.
Regardless of what approach is announced, the safest course of action is to assume examinations will proceed as close to normal as possible. This means that the best thing you can do is to continue to engage in your Home Learning to the very best of your ability and to continue to be the very best Year 11 cohort you can be. We now need to work together to secure you the outcomes you deserve.
Once the initial shock has worn off, we would urge you to think about the points below, as they should provide some reassurance for you in the coming weeks:
1. Your hard work will be recognised. None of the effort you have shown so far, and will continue to show in the coming months, will be wasted. On the contrary, the new system will make sure this is reflected in your grade.
2. Your eventual results will be indistinguishable from the real exams. In the long run, it won’t matter that your grade came via this system. You will still be able to progress to college, work, an apprenticeship and university if you wish to in the normal way. The value of your GCSE qualifications is not being altered, only the way they are administered. None of your ambitions for the future will be affected by this decision.
3. The new system will be fair and balanced. Grades will be awarded on objective evidence. Any grades that your teachers set will be moderated carefully to ensure they are consistent both within and between schools. If any student or parent were to be disappointed with their eventual grade, we would expect there to be a mechanism to appeal and take a follow up exam in the autumn, just as there was this year.
We know it is asking a lot of you, especially on top of everything you have been through already, but it is really important that you reflect on the points above and keep going. Your teachers, and all of the staff are here to support you and are working really hard on your behalf to provide you with really high quality learning resources whilst you continue to learn at home. We need you to attend any examinations that you have in the coming weeks which are still continuing, all your online lessons and to keep working hard and remember, every piece of work you complete will make a difference to your future.
In relation to this, if you have yet to apply for a Post-16 place, please take the opportunity to do this over the next few weeks. Your tutor will be in touch this week over the phone and will be able to guide you further through this process should you require it. Exeter College also has numerous videos on their website and students have access to and will sign-post you to other platforms during our on-going communication.
We will be sending a more detailed communication regarding our remote learning offer going forward for all students today. They deserve the best and most purposeful education possible.
We want to end by reiterating how proud we are of you and how much we care about you. Should you have any concerns or worries during this time, all the normal routes of communication are open to contact school and get help. The next few weeks are sure to be challenging for us all, but as a community, we have the resilience to come through this stronger than ever.