Edco News Round up August 2020

A-level results U-turn: Too little too late?

After exams were cancelled due to the pandemic, grades had been awarded using a controversial modelling system. The key factors being the ranking order of pupils and the previous exam results of schools and colleges.

Private schools disproportionately benefited while pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were treated more harshly. Now, after a dramatic u-turn from the government, A-level students in England will be given grades estimated by their teachers, rather than by an algorithm.

Though the u-turn may seem like welcoming news, it has left students confused and unsure if they have lost their original university places. An 18-year-old from Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, says being downgraded from a C to a U in A-level biology last week "really knocked my confidence" - and meant she was rejected from the University of Lincoln.

She has emailed the university since the government announcement but still doesn't know if she's in or not. Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary, says he is "incredibly sorry for the distress" caused to pupils after having to make a U-turn in how A-levels are graded.

‘Better late than never’: Students frustrated and elated over A-level U-turn - Independent
Gavin Williamson refuses to back Ofqual head after exam results U-turn - The Guardian
A-level results U-turn: Students relieved and annoyed - BBC

It's “crucial” that headteachers are “ready for a full return to school in September”

Boris Johnson plans for all children in England to go back to school full-time from September.

Though the government are set on these plans, teachers’ unions warn a back-up plan is needed in case of local outbreaks of coronavirus. An education union boss has reportedly suggested a “week on, week off” approach to schools if student numbers need to be reduced.

As schools have been re-opening in Scotland this week and last, teachers have expressed ‘deep concerns’ over safety.

Mr Johnson believes the harm being done to children's education prospects and mental health by not attending school is far more damaging than the risk posed to them by the virus.

Scottish schools reopen but many teachers 'unprepared' - TES
Covid: What's happening with next year's exams? - BBC
Scientists urge routine Covid testing when English schools reopen - The Guardian

Poor pupils facing 'two-year catch up after lockdown'

The IFS surveyed the parents of 5,500 school-aged children in England during the lockdown. It compared the richest 20% of pupils with the poorest 20%.

Its findings suggest richer primary school children spent 75 minutes a day more on their education, compared with those in poorer families during the lockdown.

Data from five years ago suggested there was no gap in learning time among primary school pupils, despite their background.

Kirsty Tennyson, Executive Principal of the Three Saints Academy Trust has said "In a deprived area there is already a gap that we're striving to close - to narrow and ultimately to close [the gap]," she says. "Children who have not got that support at home and have not been able to access that learning - that gap will have grown hugely."

Coronavirus: Poor pupils facing 'two-year catch up after lockdown' - BBC