Sixth form

Michael Bloomberg donates £1m to fund online UK summer schools | Education

Michael Bloomberg, the US billionaire, is to donate more than £1m to fund a replacement for residential university summer schools for British disadvantaged pupils, the Sutton Trust has announced. Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York and presidential candidate, said the new online platform to be called Sutton Trust is intended to help the sixth-formers who would have been eligible for a place on the trust’s face-to-face programmes cancelled because of coronavirus. “The coronavirus crisis has presented a whole new…

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We can’t yet say what’s on offer in September, UK universities tell freshers | Education

Anxious sixth-formers trying to decide which university offer to accept are finding little clear information to steer them, with vice-chancellors saying they are still not able to promise anything like the usual experience of lectures, seminars, nightlife – or even shared kitchen and dining spaces in halls. Would-be freshers who have received offers will be asked to confirm a firm first choice by 18 June. Last week Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, told MPs that before…

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Howard Clarke obituary | Education

My husband, Howard Clarke, who has died aged 76, was a sixth-form college principal in the north-east of England and a stout defender of the need for greater financial support for further education, in particular through his involvement with the Sixth Form Colleges Association. Howard was born in Sheffield, the son of Mary (nee Pemberton), a sales clerk, and James Clarke, a trade association secretary. He attended High Storrs grammar school in the city and then went to the London…

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UK universities facing £760m hit as one in five students plan to defer | Universities

British universities face a potential £760m blow to their funding after about one in five students said they would not enrol in the next academic year if classes were delivered online and other activities curtailed. A survey of students applying for undergraduate places found that more than 20% said they were willing to delay starting their courses if universities were not operating as normal due to the coronavirus pandemic, which would mean there would be 120,000 fewer students when the…

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Government refuses multi-billion pound bailout for universities | Education

Universities’ hopes of a long-term government bailout in England have been dashed, though £2.6bn in tuition fees will be paid early and ministers pledged to allow full fees to be charged even if students were unable to return to lecture theatres. Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said institutions could continue to charge the full £9,250 annual tuition fee for undergraduates while campuses remained closed and face-to-face classes were suspended as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, as long high standards…

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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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‘A weird time’: students tell of a future snatched away | Education

It might seem like a holiday for some, but the school closures, cancelled exams and university shutdowns are wreaking havoc with many students’ lives. Sixth formers have lost the chance to improve their grades through last-minute revision, and university students have been left hanging, unable to sit their final exams, say goodbye to friends, or invite their families to graduation ceremonies. Students from different stages in their education tell how their plans for the future are being shaped by the…

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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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Last year one Oxford college admitted 96% of its students from state schools. How did they do it? | Education

Erin Minogue has vivid memories of her Oxbridge application process. The words hard and daunting crop up frequently as she describes her journey from a Midlands comprehensive, then sixth-form college, to one of the most elite universities in the world. Oxford has felt “one step removed from me”, she explains. “A friend of a friend had been, but I didn’t have any family reference points so it felt very tough.” Now, about to sit her English finals, Minogue is a…

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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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Heads and councils press for extra £5.5bn for ‘struggling’ schools | Education

An alliance of headteachers, school governors, councils and unions are to lobby the chancellor for a further £5.5bn a year to help schools in England to avoid financial difficulties and cuts. The coalition, involving almost every significant organisation involved in state schools – including the National Governors Association and a bipartisan group representing both Conservative and Labour-led councils – is writing to Rishi Sunak before next week’s budget seeking additional funds, with a focus on “woefully underfunded” provision for pupils…

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