Dear Year 11 Students, Parents & Carers,
I am writing to you following the announcements made by the government earlier this week.
As I am sure you are aware, on 6th January the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, confirmed that the GCSE and ‘A’ Level examinations due to take place in the summer of 2021 have been cancelled. The announcement makes clear that a system of ‘teacher assessment’ will be used instead to determine GCSE grades. You can read the full version of his statement here.
As a school we welcome the fact that this statement removes the uncertainty and speculation that was surrounding the issue of this summer’s GCSE exams. We did have particular concerns that a large number of our students, who had been forced to miss many weeks of face-to-face education due to self-isolation, would have been disadvantaged if they had been required to sit the same exam paper as other students from areas of the country less affected by the pandemic. However, there still remain many unanswered questions regarding how schools will be asked to assess students in each subject and how final grades will be awarded.
It is likely to take several weeks before the process of ‘teacher assessment’ is consulted upon and agreed by teachers, examination boards and government ministers. In the meantime, it is absolutely crucial that all students in Year 11 continue to work as hard as possible and engage fully with all of the remote learning tasks that are being set by their teachers.
One thing we can be sure of is that schools will be asked to award GCSE grades by using a system that is fair, unbiased and based only on firm evidence. This means that it will be up to each student to demonstrate that they deserve a particular grade through their performance in tests (such as PPE exams), classroom assessments, assignments, essays, projects and other pieces of work submitted to teachers. Every single piece of work that is currently being set for Year 11 students by their teachers could potentially be used to calculate a final grade: by failing to complete and submit these tasks, students are placing themselves at a serious disadvantage and harming their own chances of success.
Schools have been given the authority to decide whether or not to proceed with the January exams for vocational subjects. Mr Halls (Deputy Headteacher) has written to the specific groups of students who study OCR Sport Studies, Sport Science and Enterprise & Marketing to explain the arrangements for next week – please see the school website for confirmation of this.
To conclude, I wish to strongly reiterate the message that the cancellation of the GCSE exams does not in any way reduce the expectations of full engagement with the remote learning currently being provided for all students in all of their subjects. In fact, it is more important than ever that students work hard, retain their focus and complete all of the tasks and activities set by their teachers.
If there are any changes to the guidance, expectations or plans for how GCSEs are to be assessed, we will contact you to communicate these. We will also be in touch as soon as we know when students can be welcomed back to school for face-to-face learning.
If any student is struggling at home to access or complete the work that is being set online by the school, please contact the school either via the ‘admin’ email or by directly communicating with Mr Lunt or Ms Arnold. Please do not contact teachers or other school staff regarding your individual GCSE grades – staff are not allowed to discuss such issues and any emails or letters on this topic will be referred immediately to myself.