Wednesday 6 January 2021
Dear Students, Parents and Carers,
It is with a very heavy heart that we have taken the decision this morning to cancel all January exams.
We have considered very carefully the health and safety implications of bringing hundreds of students to site during this period of Lockdown and whilst we know that we have worked very hard to ensure a Covid secure environment, given the transmissibility of the new variant and the possibility that 1 in 50 people may have the virus, the risks are too high for you, your family and our local community.
We do understand that for many of you this will be very disappointing news and you will be concerned about the impact on your final grade. Please be assured that this is a national issue affecting all students whatever their course and will be addressed by Government. We will be campaigning hard on your behalf. Positively, the Exam boards have already confirmed that:
‘If your school or college decides not to offer vocational exams, we have agreed the following with Ofqual and the DfE to ensure that no learner is disadvantaged.
- Learners unable to take their assessment this January may be able to take their assessment at a later date. If that is not possible, we will put in place arrangements to ensure no learner is disadvantaged.’
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, is speaking today and may outline what arrangements will be put in place for all cancelled exams: Applied, A levels and GCSEs. As soon as we know more we will keep you posted.
It is important to note that we still have many more months before your course ends, lots more assessment opportunities, and we will work with you to ensure that you are able to achieve the best grade possible that you can.
If you have any further questions get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yolanda and Steve
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, Parliament Statement – Wednesday 6 January
Dear Students, Parents and Carers,
We have just listened to Gavin Williamson’s statement in Parliament and didn’t want to wait until Friday to give you our understanding of the implications. We don’t expect much further detail before Friday, so please take this as this week’s briefing email.
This is our quick summary.
- The Secretary of State has confirmed that that no GCSE, A level or AS level exams will take place this summer. He did not mention whether this will be the case for Applied subjects.
- In place of exams, Teacher Assessed Grades will be used. The government will ‘put our trust in teachers, rather than algorithms’. We do not know anything more about this process. Ofqual will be working on the detail and training was mentioned to ensure fairness and consistency. As soon as we have more information we will share it.
- Testing – Mr Williamson also said that mass testing (lateral flow tests) will be at the centre of the Government’s strategy to enable students to return to schools and Colleges. We will be in touch over the next few weeks to explain how it might work at Long Road and to seek your consent to participate.
What this means for Long Road
We now know that there will be significant changes to assessment this year, but teaching and learning continues, and assessment of that will still be used to generate the grades. These grades must be evidence based in order to be fair. That evidence will be the work you have already done, and the work that is still to come. The single biggest message I want you to have is: college has not finished! There is still a lot of learning time available this academic year.
Your subjects have not changed. Sociological theories have not changed, the maths calculations have not changed, the English texts are still the same. The only difference is there will not be a common national exam to judge your ability; your teachers will have a much greater say in that grade assessment.
We await details from Awarding Bodies and OfQual on how that teacher assessment will be evidenced and standardised across the country. Your teachers are very used to judging the quality of your work. I ask you to trust their judgement and to continue to provide them with the material to look at when they ask for it.
We will be working on any additional teacher assessment over the coming months, including rescheduling the A Level Mock Examinations week.
We know that online learning is not the same as being in college, and we look forward to being able to getting you all back when it is safe to do so, but we have made huge leaps forward in online learning since the first lockdown last year. It is really important that if you are struggling with it, whether that is for technical reasons, or something else, that you let us know. We can then try to help, and that could include you being invited to work in college if you can’t work at home. Don’t fall behind and stay silent.
A reminder of our remote learning expectations (which have not changed)
- All timetabled lessons will be live on Teams at the normal timetabled time. If teachers are unable to run an online lesson at the normal time, they will let you know.
- Registers will be taken each lesson and attendance recorded as normal. If you are ill and cannot attend, you should report your absence as if you were coming into college.
- Students are expected to have cameras on, unless told otherwise by your teachers. You should try to find somewhere suitable to work where you can concentrate.
- Students should be appropriately dressed and ready to learn, just as in college (completed pre-reading, have a pen etc.)
- Lessons will be a mixture of teacher input, student work, collaboration, checking of work (through questioning, or a quiz, Kahoot etc.) and setting of independent work. The balance of these activities will change from lesson to lesson and from subject to subject.
- Teachers will continue to set independent work, mark it and give feedback. This is especially important now that teacher assessed grades are being used in place of exams. Again, this will vary by subject, and some independent work will be preparation work (for example reading) that won’t be marked.
Careers Guidance, Support and Extra-Curricular Activities
As in the last lockdown, we will continue to support students with their thinking about careers and progression. Our planned apprenticeship information event will still take place next Wednesday 13th Jan as a Teams Live Event, with guest speakers from a range of organisations. We will still publish the Careers eMag with additional articles, advice and opportunities.
Student groups can continue to meet online, and you can still use our support services (counselling) and academic support.
We are currently recruiting some additional learning mentors to support students in GCSE English and Maths https://www.longroad.ac.uk/the-college/careers/vacancies/ if you know anyone that would be interested.
We wish you all well, keep safe, look after each other and do contact us if you have concerns. If you are not sure who the best person to contact is, just email email@example.com and we will direct it accordingly.
Yolanda and Steve