Another period of lockdown in the United Kingdom has created yet more confusion and frustration in education. Teachers, parents and, most crucially, students across the sector have been impacted by the latest measures to combat the rising rates of Covid-19.
On the 5th January, following pressure from across the political spectrum, the government decided that all schools would need to offer remote learning until at least mid-February. Only vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers will be allowed to remain in school-based learning.
The result of school closures led, obviously, to the cancellation of exams. However, the Government, keen to avoid the fiasco of Summer 2020’s exam results, has instructed Ofqual to develop new proposals for determining results. At the forefront of Qfqual’s collective mind will be how to establish an alternative process that delivers fairly across the diverse education system found in the United Kingdom.
Michael Gove, former Education Secretary said, "What we want to make sure is that the method of assessment is as fair as possible and takes into account the effect that disruption has had.”
The first option to deliver fair outcomes is Centre Assessed Grades. This takes the teacher’s professional judgement of what a student would likely have achieved in a sit down exam. After the uproar last summer, it is widely believed that the centre assessed grading mechanism will be the fairest. Any talk of algorithms or other ‘smart’ grading methods will be seen as politically unpalatable by both Government and the opposition.
The centre assessed process takes evidence from class, coursework and mock exam performance. A teacher can then consider each student on these basis, along with input from colleagues. Parents must therefore be aware of the importance of a student’s day-to-day performance.
In mid-January it was reported that A-level, AS and GCSE teacher grading could be assisted by ‘mini-exams’ in key subjects. In a letter to Ofqual, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson promised not to use any algorithm and said so-called mini-exams would help ascertain “deserved grades”. Likely to include Maths and English, they will of course be subject to whatever Government guidance is applicable at the time.
Despite just as complicated a scenario existing in UK universities, with students demanding partial reimbursement on accommodation and tuition fees, the academic situation remains relatively unchanged. The Government’s guidance has not covered higher education institutions, except for the location and delivery of teaching. Nearly all students undertaking practical courses with Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments will be learning online, with some being permitted to continue subject to appropriate COVID testing.
For the foreseeable future during this period of lockdown online learning will remain the only form of teaching for the vast majority of students around the country. This prompts the question; how does this impact students?
For those studying A-levels this is actually a useful opportunity to develop new studying skills and techniques to equip them for university life, and to succeed with their existing studies. By adopting learning styles associated with modern-day university life such as collaboration, resource utilisation and proactivity, students can take control of their lockdown learning.
Online platforms like Zoom for video calling or Trello for project management can help students leverage technology to their advantage, improving understanding through collective learning and thereby having a positive impact on year-end results.
With coursework and general class performance being such a deciding factor in grades and online learning providing more distance between students and teachers, it can be an effective strategy to employ the services of private tutors to support a child’s learning; wherever in the education system they might be.
Think Tutors can offer high quality, one to one tuition sessions with experienced, appropriately qualified tutors across the full age range - enabling your child to achieve their fullest in education. Tutors can help with all forms of assessment including mock exams (most likely relevant to key subjects only), coursework as well as supporting the general day-to-day teaching of classroom subjects.
To find out more about what Think Tutors can offer, just click here and contact one of the team to discuss your child’s requirements.