Updated: Jan 11
As the United Kingdom settles into another period of unspecified lockdown, the impact on students, particularly those from marginalised backgrounds is profound.
The purpose of this article is to clarify current education policy and give students tips and advice on how to navigate studying during another period of uncertainty and how to meet their learning and achievement objectives.
On the 4th of January 2021, Boris Johnson announced to the nation that GCSE and A Level examinations taking place during the 2021 period were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering these cancellations, Gavin Williamson stated that replacing examinations this year, students will be awarded grades predicted by their teachers in August 2021.
Recommendations for Students and for Governmental/Policy Officials
Recommendation One: Need for a more robust and transparent grading system that supports all students free from bias.
Dr Suriyah Bi’s report (2020) exposes huge structural racial, gendered, sexual and class based biases in the teacher prediction model and the types of students likely to receive higher predicted grades. The DfE have made the right decision in opting for a more reliable grade awarding system. Despite this, there needs to be clarity around of which grades are awarded to students and why to ensure fairness and consistency in the grade awarding process.
Recommendation Two: Prioritisation of all courses, academic and non-academic and ensuring parity of esteem.
Whilst the Department for Education have provided comprehensive guidance about A Level and GCSE reforms, there has been little consolidation or support for students taking BTEC, International Baccalaureate and other vocational qualifications. The government announced on the night of Tuesday 5th January that school and college providers could deal with BTEC Examinations 'as they see fit' . We strongly recommend that the government make clearer provisions for BTEC & candidates of other vocational qualifications, private candidates sitting their exams independently, and International Baccalaureate students.
Recommendation Three: Free Devices (e.g. Laptops, Tablets) should be provided for disadvantaged students who do not have access to devices.