Concerns over secondary school exam delays in Kingston

Students across the country will see their exams next summer delayed by three weeks to make up for time missed due to coronavirus, but there are concerns about whether the move is sufficient.

The delay will apply to most GCSE, AS and A Level exams in England as well as results days.

In a press release from the government, education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Students have experienced considerable disruption and it’s right we give them and their teachers the certainty that exams will go ahead and more time to prepare.”

Educational inequality widened

But there is growing concern that a three-week delay is not sufficient to undo the challenges posed by the pandemic, which could erase 10 years of progress towards educational equality.

Charlotte Mawn, a GCSE and A Level tutor in Kingston, says she has never been so busy, as parents and students reach out for extra support to try and catch up, but she is worried about those who cannot afford additional help.

She said: “It’s hard enough, coming from a lower socio-economic group, to move through the academic process as it is, and this is another thing added to that.”

With over a fifth of schools partially or completely closed due to coronavirus, there are concerns that it is only going to get worse, and that a three-week delay would not tackle some of the other issues with virtual learning.

“A lot of my college students who are mainly virtual are really missing the whole experience,” said Mawn. “They feel overloaded with work and there isn’t the support they need… it’s a massive sense of the unknown.”

‘Compassion is what’s needed’

She also said that a three-week delay to exams would do nothing to undo the lasting problems caused by the exams results algorithm.

She added that some of her students were prevented from doing the A Level subjects they wanted because of unexpected results from their GCSEs.

The algorithm gave students results based on their predicted grades, ranking relative to their peers and the performance of the school in those subjects over the last three years, which meant many received grades that were much lower than expected.

“Compassion is what’s needed,” said Mawn. “A lot of students are traumatised – their whole world has been turned upside down.

“I’m thankful for the extension, but with [students] already being potentially six months behind, I feel there needs to be some more mitigating circumstances.”

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