Ofsted chief calls for a more can-do approach to primaries reopening | Education

The chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, has expressed her disappointment that primary schools will not be reopening before the summer, amid continuing concern about the government’s failure to prioritise children’s education in the coronavirus crisis. The head of Ofsted said she was saddened that people are “perhaps more frightened than they actually need to be” and called for as much preparation to be done for September reopening as possible before the summer holidays, which start next next month. Giving…

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Grammar schools created lasting divisions | Education

J oan Bakewell rightly praises the 1944 Education Act for establishing free secondary education (VE Day was the spark for change. Coronavirus could be too, 8 May), thus giving her the opportunity to study at a Stockport grammar school. Oddly though, she says the 11-plus exam “split educational options”. There was no grammar school option for those who “failed” the 11-plus. I wonder if the children whose self-esteem took a tumble felt they were part of a “more equitable society”.…

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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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‘The human stuff matters’: heads call for a kinder school system post Covid-19 | Education

Schools closed, exams cancelled, a halt to Ofsted inspections and performance tables. Even the weirdest misfit futurologist employed by the prime minister’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, couldn’t have envisaged that, 10 years on from the start of the coalition government, the UK would be locked down with a partially functioning school system. Normal politics seems a distant memory. It could be 100 years, rather than 10, since Michael Gove, now a minister at the heart of the Covid-19 battle, was trumpeting…

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Sixth formers: how has coronavirus impacted you? | Education

Coronavirus has impacted all levels of education, from nurseries to final exams. But for many 17 and 18 year olds, the impact has been particularly acute. These students have had their A Level exams cancelled, and many are likely to be starting university or work with social distancing and remote learning in place. This year group were also the first to experience the new GCSE exam system two years ago. For many 17 and 18 year olds, key milestones have…

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‘The gap will be bigger than ever’: grammar school exams still going ahead | Education

In this time of crisis, exams are off: GCSEs, A-levels, Sats. All except one … the 11-plus, a test that was phased out in most parts of the country decades ago, but that means everything to families in areas still operating a system of grammars and de facto secondary moderns. A quick scan of grammar school websites around the country shows that, so far, it is business as usual. The entire world may have stopped in its tracks but, in…

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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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When the Covid-19 crisis finally ends, UK schools must never return to normal | Education

From goodness knows where, in the last few weeks school and college leaders have pulled out all the stops. Despite 10 years of real-term funding cuts and ongoing fears of redundancies, the education profession has risen to the Covid-19 challenge. From nursery schools to further education colleges, colleagues have entrenched themselves in their communities, caring for the children of key workers and those at risk of harm while becoming distributors of food and providers of essential social care services. Hundreds…

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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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‘It’s a nightmare’: how coronavirus is wreaking havoc on students’ exams | Education

Universities across the UK have closed down class teaching and are running online seminars and tutorials because of the coronavirus pandemic. The race is on to decide how to handle the summer exams so final-year students can complete their degrees. But there are fears that disadvantaged students could suffer the most through the rapid shift to online learning. Many universities will replace traditional exams with online assessments, as Oxford and Cambridge announced last week. At Imperial College London, medical students…

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Oxbridge to replace summer exams with online assessments due to coronavirus | Education

Oxford and Cambridge universities are to replace this summer’s exams with online assessments due to the coronavirus pandemic, amid calls by thousands of UK students to be allowed to opt out of doing their finals or restart their final year. The move comes after students from Oxford, Edinburgh and University College London (UCL) joined their peers at Cambridge in calling for a choice of final-year assessments, warning that the worsening Covid-19 outbreak threatens their academic performance. Cambridge University announced on…

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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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