A third year of A-Level uncertainty places more burdens on young people that "did not exist in the past"

Students are set to face A-Level uncertainty for a third year as schools and colleges are told by government to prepare for two different grading scenarios.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 4:45 am

Whilst the government has issued more guidance to sixth form provisions for 2022 exams compared to this summer and that of 2020 - leaders say the directive to get students ready for A-Level exams but to also have a contingency plan is "not straight-forward".

It has led to year 13 students being "twitchy" and more pressure being placed on young people "that did not exist in the past".

David Holtham is the executive principal of post 16 education for the Leeds based GORSE Academies Trust and oversees education at Elliott Hudson and Boston Spa academies.

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A-Level students at colleges are unsure whether teachers or exams will decide grades.

He and his senior leadership team are working on the basis that exams will go-ahead in May and June 2022 and, in February, the government will release modules that allow students to focus their exam revision.

Also currently taking place is consultation between the government and colleges as to what a teacher assessed grade (TAG) system might look like should the country be placed into another lockdown scenario and exams being cancelled, with learning centres having to set up their own systems for this.

Mr Holtham said: "We have a pretty clear idea of what will happen if we do exams and that is the preferred route. There are challenges in that and the different experiences of pupils and how much time they have missed or their teachers have missed. It certainly is not going to be straight-forward and a lot depends on what will happen throughout the winter.

"The results of the consultation have not been given to us but it is pretty clear that schools and colleges are going to have to set up the initial process. We are now in the process of deciding what our standards will look like to collect assessment information on students throughout the year so, if we need to, we have something available.

Students at Elliott Hudson Boston Spa are glad to be back in classrooms.

"This means all schools and colleges are working in two different ways at the same time. We are preparing for exams in May and June - and that is fine but we have to prepare to predict a TAG for them as well. We are doing two things that are not straight-forward."

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While Mr Holtham said he didn't want to be churlish of the government, in light of better guidance for 2022, he said there needed to be a better understanding of the impact decisions were having on the ground.

He explained: "It is time demanding and they make the decision but don't understand the significant impact that has on young people. There is a pressure on young people that did not exist in the past. We hear about well-being but actually the way that we are structuring education does place increased burdens on them.

David Holtham, executive principal for post 16 education at GORSE Trust.

"If you come to Elliott Hudson or Boston Spa, you would think things are back to normal. All of the kids are back in lessons and enrichment programmes are running but year 13 are definitely twitchy about what assessments will look like.

"But, if you ignore that, we are trying to get back to what makes a great sixth form and spending our time working on how we enrich the experience whilst they are with us."

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