A-levels

Thousands of A-level students could lose their unconditional university offers | Education

Thousands of A-level students could have their unconditional university offers withdrawn this summer, as ministers and the higher education regulator try to crack down on panic offers made during the pandemic. Sources at Westminster say the universities minister, Michelle Donelan, is determined to constrain universities, after private government data showed that 30,000 offers that had been dependent on A-level grades were suddenly switched to “unconditional” when the pandemic struck in March. The competition to recruit UK students will be more…

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To stop poor students giving up on university, we must offer them places now | David Latchman | Education

After the government cancelled A-levels, the decision to award calculated grades based on a pupil’s past performance and teacher assessments was welcome news for most young people hoping to go to university. The vast majority will secure a place soon and be provided with at least some reassurance about their next step in life. But the problem with awarding entry on the basis of calculated grades is that it discriminates against disadvantaged students. A number of studies have shown that…

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Schools and exam boards undermine promise to pupils of September tests | Education

A row is brewing between examination boards, schools, the government and England’s exam regulator over whether pupils unhappy with their assessed GCSE or A-level grades will have the chance to sit the exams in autumn, as promised. When the Department for Education and Ofqual, the exam regulator, announced that this summer’s GCSE and A-level exams would be cancelled and replaced with assessed grades, students were told they would have the option to take the exams “as soon as reasonably possible”…

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Parents and pupils overwhelm schools with pleas for good grades | Education

Anxious pupils and parents are bombarding schools with pleas to award good grades in the new teacher assessments that have been put in place in lieu of cancelled exams. Schools are being forced to advise staff to ignore contact from families who are trying to influence teachers’ judgments. GCSE and A-level teachers have been told to stop setting work for pupils in a bid to deflect attempts to sway teacher assessments and the final grades teachers they submit to the…

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Will GCSE and A-level students get a fair deal when coronavirus has cancelled exams? | Education

In any normal year, a sixth-form teacher would be pleased to be handed three four-page, well-researched essays by an exam candidate. But as schools broke up for Easter, one head of history in Kent had to tell his conscientious student she was too late. Only work submitted before 20 March – the date schools closed because of the coronavirus, with this year’s public examinations cancelled – can be counted towards students’ final grades. Even practical coursework for arts subjects cannot…

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Exam regulator unveils GCSE and A-level plans for coronavirus crisis | Education

Pupils taking GCSEs and A-levels this summer will have their grades awarded by a combination of teacher assessment, class ranking and the past performance of their schools, the exam regulator for England has announced. Ofqual, which oversees schools’ public examinations, laid out the new system to award grades after the government cancelled this summer’s exams because of the coronavirus crisis and the resulting school closures, which are likely to remain for the rest of the academic year. The new system…

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Concern for A-level students over cap on university admissions | Education

School leaders are urging the government to ensure A-level students who have had their exams cancelled this summer because of the Covid-19 crisis do not face further disadvantage by losing university places because of a cap on student numbers. The warning came after the Guardian revealed that strict limits on the number of students each university in England can recruit are likely to be imposed by the government to create more stability and avoid an admissions free-for-all as the sector…

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How to do GCSE and A-level schoolwork at home during Covid-19 | Education

School closures and cancelled exams are a big deal for all pupils, but they’re likely to be especially distressing for students preparing for GCSEs and A-levels in England or National 5s and Highers in Scotland. They will already have begun revision, and many will be anxious about putting their lives on hold. That’s why looking after teenagers’ mental health during the coronavirus pandemic is the first priority for parents. The uncertainty over how exams will be replaced will put a…

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Some UK schools looking at unregulated exams to replace GCSEs and A-Levels | Education

Some schools in the UK are investigating the use of unregulated examinations to get around the government’s decision to cancel A-level and GCSEs exams this summer over coronavirus fears, the Guardian has learned. A group of schools have been discussing the possible use of qualifications such as international GCSEs known as iGCSEs, or alternatives to A-levels known as Pre-U or international A-levels, which are offered by examination boards AQA and Cambridge Assessments and are almost exclusively used by independent schools.…

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Coronavirus: education officials to discuss possible school closures in England | Education

Teaching unions and school leaders are to hold talks with the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, on Monday to discuss plans for schools and colleges in England as they start to negotiate the impact of the growing coronavirus emergency. The government has until now resisted pressure to close schools as other countries have done, but there is mounting concern in the sector about how schools will continue to function with growing numbers of staff required to self-isolate. The education secretary is…

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Call for ‘first-in-family allowance’ to cover year’s tuition fees | Education

Students who are the first in their family to go to university should be given a year’s free tuition to allay fears about graduate debt and encourage them to continue into higher education, according to a report. The authors want the government to introduce a “first-in-family allowance” which would cover tuition fees for the first year of an undergraduate degree – which normally costs £9,250 – for any student whose parents have not had tertiary education. Parental education can be…

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Skills must be central to budget if the country is to be ‘levelled up’ | Letters | Education

If the chancellor really wants to improve training for skills (Javid to back skills as key to ‘levelling up’ plan, 31 January), he inherits from a long line of politicians who tried to change Britain’s stubborn failure in this area. And it’s not just the disparities between regions in the UK; we are also persistently behind other advanced industrial nations. Even the 1964 Industrial Training Act, which was probably the most ambitious attempt, has been seen as a failure. The…

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Young people more sceptical of need to go to university, poll finds | Education

Young people in Britain are increasingly sceptical of the need to go to university and are more aware of apprenticeships, according to polling, as a record proportion of school-leavers await their A-level results. More than 300,000 sixth formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will find out the results of their summer exams on Thursday and in many cases use the grades to gain places on undergraduate courses. But only two-thirds of young people rate a university education as important,…

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Stormzy to fund Cambridge scholarships for black students | Education

Stormzy has announced that he is funding two scholarships for black British students to go to Cambridge University. The grime artist will pay the students’ tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant for up to four years of an undergraduate course. Speaking on Thursday at his former school, the Harris City Academy in Croydon, south London, where A-level students were opening their results, Stormzy told BBC Breakfast: “If you’re academically brilliant don’t think because you come from a certain…

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Rising number of pupils caught bringing phones into exams | Education

Cheating on mobile phones, cyber-attacks on schools and leaked or fake exam papers being shared on social media are among the problems that students and teachers now have to navigate, according to reports by England’s exam regulator. Data collected by Ofqual, which oversees GCSE and A-level examinations, shows a rising number of students were caught bringing phones into exam venues last summer, while the regulator also reported that schools have been hit with hacking efforts affecting documents stored electronically. Ofqual…

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T-level courses may not be ready by 2020, warns education union | Education

An education union has called for a delay in the introduction of the Conservatives’ new vocational qualifications amid concerns about student recruitment and the tight timescale. T-levels, which are intended to provide a vocational alternative to A-levels, are due to be taught for the first time in September 2020, but a report says the programme faces serious challenges because of the large-scale changes involved and a lack of awareness among pupils and their parents. There is also concern about progression…

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