Coronavirus - Advice from the Principal
Posted on 15th June 2020
To Parents/Guardians and Students
The Government has just announced further details about how grades will be awarded this summer.
Please see the press release below.
We await further announcements for the details of how exactly this will be achieved and will communicate with you as soon as the picture becomes clearer.
Department of Education information as of 15/06/20 at 4pm Government coronavirus action plan
Updated guidance for education settings on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Ofqual update on examinations 3/4/20
Since the Secretary of State announced that the 2020 exam series in England would be cancelled to help fight the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Ofqual has developed a process which will fairly recognise students’ work and make sure they get their grades in time to progress. Ofqual has today set out how GCSEs, AS and A levels will be awarded this summer and published further guidance for education staff, students, parents and carers.
For this summer’s awards, schools and colleges are being asked to provide centre assessment grades for their students. These should be fair, objective and carefully considered judgements of the grades schools and colleges believe their students would have been most likely to achieve if they had sat their exams and should take into account the full range of available evidence.
Ofqual has published a message to students to reassure them that they, and exam boards, will do everything they can to make sure that, as far as possible, grades are fair and that students are not disadvantaged because of this unprecedented situation.
Guidance from Ofqual on how qualifications will be graded and awarded in summer 2020 can be found here:
Further details on exams and grades announced
Further details on arrangements for exams which have been cancelled to fight spread of coronavirus
The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer, following our actions to slow the spread of coronavirus.
University representatives have confirmed that they expect universities to be flexible and do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to higher education.
This year’s summer exam series, including A levels, GCSEs and other qualifications, and all primary assessments, have been cancelled as we fight to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The Government’s priority is now to ensure affected students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including going into employment, starting university, college or sixth form courses, or an apprenticeship in the autumn.
This means ensuring GCSE, A and AS level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to. Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible, and will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students. The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead.
To produce this, teachers will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment – clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly this will be provided to schools and colleges. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in.
Ofqual and exam boards will be discussing with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that it is as fair as possible. More information will be provided as soon as possible.
The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July. In terms of a permanent record, the grades will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years. We will also aim to ensure that the distribution of grades follows a similar pattern to that in other years, so that this year’s students do not face a systematic disadvantage as a consequence of these extraordinary circumstances.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
Cancelling exams is something no Education Secretary would ever want to do, however these are extraordinary times and this measure is a vital but unprecedented step in the country’s efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.
My priority now is to ensure no young person faces a barrier when it comes to moving onto the next stage of their lives – whether that’s further or higher education, an apprenticeship or a job.
I have asked exam boards to work closely with the teachers who know their pupils best to ensure their hard work and dedication is rewarded and fairly recognised.
We recognise that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they haven’t been able to sit their exams. If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once schools are open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.
There is a very wide range of different vocational and technical qualifications as well as other academic qualifications for which students were expecting to sit exams this summer. These are offered by a large number of awarding organisations, and have differing assessment approaches – in many cases students will already have completed modules or non-exam assessment which could provide evidence to award a grade. We are encouraging these organisations to show the maximum possible flexibility and pragmatism to ensure students are not disadvantaged. Ofqual is working urgently with the sector to explore options and we will work with them to provide more details shortly.
15.06.20 Safer travel guidance for passengers
From today it is the law that you must wear a face covering when travelling in England on public transport including a bus, coach, tram or train. Where travel with children is necessary, such as to an education setting, consider whether children could walk or cycle, accompanied by a responsible adult or carer, where appropriate. The law requiring passengers to wear face coverings does not apply to children under the age of 11. Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 3, for safety.
Children, even if they are over 11, are not required to wear face coverings on school transport. School transport is that provided by local authorities, academy trusts or schools for the specific purpose of transporting children to and from their home and school.
The Department for Transport’s guidance can be found here:
Updated guidance on awarding qualifications in summer 2020
In an open letter to Heads of Centre that Ofqual published on 12 June, they discuss grading for GCSEs, AS and A levels this summer, as well as what to expect for results in August and appeals. The letter also discusses their continuing work on an autumn exam series and assessments in 2021.
The letter can be found here:
28.05.20 Department for Transport travelling advice for parents and pupils
The Department for Transport has issued advice on how parents and pupils can travel to school safely as part of the #TravelSafely campaign. Resources have been developed to ensure that parents, pupils and staff have the information they need to stay safe on the public transport network. This includes information developed in collaboration with respected partners on how to cycle and walk safely, where possible.
Resources can be found here:
22.05.20 Guidance for parents and carers on supporting their children’s education during the coronavirus outbreak
We have published information, guidance and support for parents and carers of children who are learning at home during the coronavirus outbreak.
Guidance on helping secondary school children continue their education during the coronavirus outbreak can be found here:
We have updated our guidance on helping primary school aged children learn at home to include information on the wider opening of educational settings.
The guidance can be found here:
13.05.20 Opening schools for more children and young people: initial planning framework for schools in England
All schools are different, and it is not possible for government to set specific national guidelines that could be universally applicable. Instead, we have created a framework to help school leaders and academy trusts to start thinking through the steps they might need to take to enable them to open their schools for more pupils. The framework is designed for schools. Further guidance for childcare providers and colleges will be published shortly.
The framework can be found here:
06.05.20 Ofqual publishes initial decisions on GCSE and A level grading proposals for 2020
Ofqual has published their initial decisions on the consultation for the exceptional arrangements they have put in place for awarding GCSEs, AS and A levels this summer.
Ofqual has announced that students entered for these exams in year 10 and below will be eligible to receive calculated grades this summer.
Further details on the outcome of the consultation can be found here:
27.04.20 Ofqual seeks views on awarding vocational and technical qualifications in summer 2020
Ofqual has published a consultation on the exceptional arrangements for awarding vocational, technical and general qualifications (other than GCSEs, AS and A levels) in summer 2020. The deadline for responses is 8 May.
Further information on this consultation can be found here:
22.04.20 Aldi joins free school meals national voucher scheme
Aldi has joined the list of supermarkets that will redeem vouchers secured through the free school meals national voucher scheme. Supermarkets available also include Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, M&S, Asda and Morrisons. Schools will be able to order vouchers for Aldi through Edenred from the week commencing 27 April.
This announcement can be found here:
20.04.20 Launch of BBC Bitesize
The BBC has today launched an education package across TV and online, featuring celebrities and teachers, helping to keep children learning at home and supporting parents.
BBC Bitesize can be accessed here:
Get help with technology and remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Following the announcement by the Secretary of State for Education on Sunday 19 April, laptops and tablets will be made available to help the most disadvantaged young people access online learning and social care services. Young people and families eligible for devices must not already have access to one, and must be in one of the following groups:
- Children with a social worker
- Care leavers
- Disadvantaged children in Year 10, ahead of sitting their GCSEs next year
Responsible bodies will need to work with schools to identify eligible young people, and then place an order through our website when it launches later this week. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and disadvantaged children do not have an internet connection, they will also receive a 4G router.
Schools will be able to keep these devices once they’ve reopened, allowing children and young people to continue to learn and receive support at home in the future.
Any 16 to 19-year olds in education without a suitable device and/or connectivity to study remotely and whose family can’t afford these costs will also be eligible for support via the 16-19 Bursary Fund. Decisions on support will be made by education providers.
16.04.20 Ofqual seeks views on GCSE and A level grading proposals for 2020
Ofqual has published a consultation on the exceptional arrangements for awarding GCSE and A/AS levels in summer 2020. The deadline for responses is 29 April.
Further information on this consultation can be found here:
We can confirm that A Level students will get their results on 13 August, and GCSE students will get theirs on 20 August as previously published.
09.04.20 Schools to remain closed until further notice
All early years settings, schools and further education providers will remain closed until further notice, except for children of critical workers and children who are vulnerable. We will only re-open settings when the scientific advice indicates it is safe to do so.
Guidance for parents and carers: keeping children safe online
We have updated our information for parents and carers to include a section on keeping children safe online. It provides links to online resources that will help support parents and carers in keeping their children safe online.
Full details can be found in section 6.3 of the guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings:
Guidance on supporting children and young peoples mental health and wellbeing
Guidance on implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings
We have published new guidance on how to implement social distancing in education and childcare settings. This guidance also gives advice for individuals in vulnerable health groups:
It is important to read this alongside the overall guidance for social distancing:
Staying at home guidance
Yesterday, the Prime Minister addressed the nation on coronavirus (COVID-19) and asked people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.
There is no change in guidance for education settings, which remain closed except for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. We continue to ask that parents keep their children at home, wherever possible.
The full stay at home guidance is available at:
Guidance for early years and childcare providers
We have published new guidance for Ofsted-registered childcare providers about childcare provision following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19):
Updated handwashing advice
The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often. Soap and water and regular handwashing for at least 20 seconds is the best way of staying safe. Hand washing with soap employs mechanical action that loosens bacteria and viruses from the skin, rinsing them into the drain. Drying hands afterwards makes the skin less hospitable to the virus. Hand sanitiser can be effective if soap is not available or the situation makes using soap less feasible (i.e. when outside) but using hand sanitiser provides none of the virus-destroying friction that rubbing your hands together and rinsing with water provides.
A video on hand washing can be found at:
The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.
Resources are currently available for KS1, KS2 and KS3 and can be used in various settings including schools and at home:
Online educational resources to support children to continue learning at home
We have published a list of online resources that parents, and schools can consider to support children to continue learning at home. The list will be updated over time, and includes a wide range of resources for all ages that schools can consider using as part of their planned curriculum. Schools have already been drawing on existing resources and tools they are familiar with to support children to continue learning at home and should continue to do so.
More information can be found here:
Updated guidance on apprenticeship programme
We have updated our guidance on the apprenticeship programme response to coronavirus (COVID-19) including information on the continuation of training and end point assessments for furloughed apprentices, and the pausing of new funding audits.
The guidance can be found here:
Updated guidance for parents and carers on the closure of education settings
We have updated our guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings to include information about the Easter holidays, examinations, and educational resources and support.
The guidance can be found here:
Department for Education coronavirus helpline
The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)