Easter holidays – Letter to Ofqual, DofE and Edexcel exam board 06.04.20

Easter holidays – Letter to Ofqual, DofE and Edexcel exam board 06.04.20

As showed in my last post my intent for this module’s WIP has altered slightly. 

Over the last week Ofqual have announced that private candidates that do not have their work accessed my qualified teachers will not be able too receive an exam grade for this exam season.

This is important to my practice for a number of reasons, first it meant that my older two children who were working in a structured way towards A-levels and GCSE’s altered the way they were working, secondly it highlighted the way that time and again home educated children are treated in small but immense ways differently to their schooled counterparts, and thirdly, I decided my project this module would be a culmination of my images, and text from these sources.  

It has effected our way of educating immensely and as this is predominately personal project it is important for the understanding of my final presentation of these images to understand how and why.

My eldest son has since withdrawn his exam entry for AS levels this year and decided he will not study towards A-levels next year, but will instead be working on his portfolio and attempting to gain a place at university based on his portfolio, personal statement and interview. It is a gamble, there is no denying it. But he feels it would be ill advised to potentially work for another 12 months and have the same thing happen again, his time would be much better utilised working on his art, and reading, and working towards his goals that three bits of paper which may, if social distancing has to continue not appear again next year.

My 15 year old found out on Friday (he had tutors for his science exams) that even with tutors being able to sign off his work, they may not infact be allowing students to be awarded qualifications from the exam boards for any children under year 11 (Finn would be in year 10) .

Along with many people in the home ed community I have spent the last three days emailing Ofqual (the governing body that regulated uk exams) , the department of education and Gavin Williamson the secretary state for education, Boris Johnson and NO 10 , my local mp and the local home education officers at the council. We are still in the dark as to whether this will be applying to home educators, a number of whom split their childrens exams as they are so expensive it is difficult to take them all in one sitting, or for other reasons such as logistics, availability of exams centers, and many other reasons.

Below is the letter that I sent to the above,

 

To whom it may concern, 

I would like to request this letter is presented to whomever is overseeing the rules governing awarding of grades to private exam candidates.

Mr Johnson stated in his address when he closed schools  that “the government would ensure that pupils due to sit exams this summer would get the qualifications they need.” (Johnson march 2020) I have today read your new guidance concerning awarding of grades for private candidates, and respectfully this goes against MR Johnsons assurances.

I am emailing regarding my 15 year old son. You have stated in your guidance “We propose that exam boards should not issue grades to year 10 students (or lower groups)  as their progression will not be hindered”. (Gov.uk April 2020)

I completely agree a schooled child will not be hindered by this, however many home educated children will be. Many parents choose to split the exams across several exam seasons, as the cost of exams as a private candidate is so high. I simply cannot afford for my child to sit all his exams in the same year.

Last year my son at 14, took 2 GCSE’s achieving a grade 7 and a grade 8. He is an extremely intelligent child and was consistently getting grade 8/9 on his mocks for this year. He is WELL above his peer group, and is more than capable of being in a higher year group if he were at school. Under new guidance if at school and in a higher year group, he could still be awarded an exam grade, but not as a private candidate that has consistently been working and achieving above his year group. Under these rules you will not allow him a grade, but that IS detrimental , that IS a hinderance, and WILL disproportionately put him at a disadvantage to schooled children. This is something the government had stated would not happen, did the government only mean to protect schooled children, and not ALL children?

My son has a plan to go to Oxford university. To get there he is going to rejoin the school system Sept 2021, for A-levels with the aim of joining the ‘oxbridge stream’ for preparation to help him apply. He NEEDS to have 4 more GCSE’s at least at grade 8/9 to do this. By not allowing him to get the grade he has worked towards for these past months, it will make it substantially less likely that he will achieve this goal, as I will not be able to afford for him to take all the GCSE’s in one year.

I would like to request that Ofqual allows private candidates to make their own decisions as to whether to still enter for this exam period. It does no-one any harm if you allow this, it will not put schooled children at a disadvantage, but by not allowing it, you could potentially be adversely effecting the educational, and life prospects of hundreds of children.

I understand why you took the decision, but you must understand that the same things that disadvantage home educated children, do not in some cases disadvantage private candidates, and vice versa. We have already been treated differently, and hindered in a way the government promised we wouldn’t, in that for many home educated children their ‘teachers’ are their parents, and you are not allowing us to predict a grade for our children.

If you follow through with this, you will be hindering our children even more. Many of these children have been failed time and time again by the system, and respectfully, this is them being failed again, even if by lack of understanding, and not purposefully, it does not change the fact they WILL be disadvantaged in comparison to their peers. 

Schooled children have quite rightly, had rules relaxed over and over again during this crisis, provisions have been put in place for them, colleges and universities have made special provisions for them, can I ask are our children not worthy of protection? Are our children not to be afforded the same protection as schooled children?

Again, Mr Johnson stated in his address when he closed schools  that

“the government would ensure that pupils due to sit exams this summer would get the qualifications they need.” this is not a fulfilment of this assurance to the nation . 

I will be copying in my local MP Steve double the PM , and Gavin Williamson into this letter.

Many thanks for your time I look forward to your response.

Mrs Rebecca Graham

 

REFERENCES

Gov.uk  Information for Heads of Centre, Heads of Department and teachers on the submission of Centre assessment grades: Summer 2020 grades for GCSE, AS and A level, Extended Project Qualification and Advanced Extension Award in maths Summer 2020 grades for GCSE, AS and A level, Extended Project Qualification and Advanced Extension Award in maths Available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/877930/Summer_2020_grades_for_GCSE_AS_A_level_EPQ_AEA_in_maths_-_guidance_for_heads_of_centres.pdf (Accessed 06.04.20)

The Telegraph. March 2020. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/03/19/gcse-a-level-exams-scrapped-coronavirus-pupils-promised-fair/ (Accessed 06.04.20)

 

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