University bosses call for next year’s A-level exams to be scrapped in favour of teacher assessments so students can keep studying into July
- Two vice-chancellors have called for A-level exams to be scrapped next year
- Sir David Eastwood and Sir Chris Husbands want teaching to go through to July
- Students would then be marked in moderated teacher assessments
- Goes against Gavin Williamson’s plan for exams either being delayed or being based on reduced curriculums
University bosses have called for the government to scrap A-level exams next year in favour of teacher assessments to avoid another education ‘fiasco’.
The Vice-chancellors of Birmingham University and Sheffield Hallam University have said it would be ‘simply wrong’ to make sixth form students sit exams rather than carry on with lessons after losing weeks in the classroom earlier this year.
But the their plan to focus the entire academic year on learning with teacher marks goes against Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s proposal to go ahead with assessments that could be slightly delayed or based on reduced curriculums.
University bosses have called for the government to scrap A-level exams next year in favour of teacher assessments to avoid another education ‘fiasco’
Writing in The Times, Birmingham’s Sir David Eastwood and Sheffield Hallam’s Sir Chris Husbands said: ‘[Students] need all the time for learning they can possibly get.’
Their proposal – supported by several other figures – is to simply cancel A-level exams and ‘extend learning all the way through this academic year, until July’.
Teachers would provide assessment grades on their work over the year, which would avoid the possibility of repeating the summer grading ‘fiasco’ if exams had to be cancelled.
A decision now by the Department for Education would give exam boards time to set out a moderation process for teacher grading ‘almost every other advanced educational system’.
‘Our approach would have huge benefits. It would give students certainty and remove the worry that learning would be interrupted by a local lockdown,’ they added.
Sir David Eastwood, Vice-chancellor of Birmingham University, said it would be ‘simply wrong’ to make sixth form students sit exams rather than carry on with lessons after losing weeks in the classroom earlier this year
Sir David and Sir Chris Husbands, Sheffield Hallam’s Vice Chancellor (pictured) have proposed cancelling A-level exams and ‘extend learning all the way through this academic year until July’
‘It would give universities certainty about assessments. It would ease progression from school to university for learners whose education has been so interrupted.’
The university chiefs, whose institutions together teach 60,000 students, added that time was critical to ‘mitigate the impacts of further disruption on our young people’.
Figures published yesterday showed the number of secondary schools fully open fell in the past week from 92 per cent to 84 per cent.
The Department for Education replied by saying: ‘We expect exams to take place next year and continue to work with [the exam regulator] Ofqual and the exam boards on our approach, recognising that students will have experienced considerable disruption to their education in the last academic year.
‘There are a range of measures pro- posed by Ofqual, including a possible short delay to the exam timetable and subject-specific changes to reduce pressure on teaching time.’
The university chiefs, whose institutions together teach 60,000 students, added that time was critical to ‘ mitigate the impacts of further disruption on our young people’. Pictured: Locked down students at Manchester Metropolitan University
But the their plan to focus the entire academic year on learning with teacher marks goes against Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s proposal to go ahead with assessments that could be slightly delayed or based on reduced curriculums
It comes as dozens of teaching professionals also wrote to Boris Johnson to warn of the impact of testing problems has had on children and teachers as it has caused disruption since schools reopened this month.
In a new poll, released by the Publishers Association, more than half (53%) of teachers with students due to take exams next year claim their students are not on track to get the results they are capable of.
This figure rises to 66% in deprived schools with the most children receiving free school meals.
The study also found that 81% of headteachers stated they do not have access to the funding needed to fully equip pupils who will take exams in 2021 with the physical textbooks and workbooks required to succeed.
In a letter to the Prime Minister published yesterday, the National Education Union (NEU) demanded ‘urgent clarity and realism on exams and tests for next year’.
The letter stated: ‘There needs to be fairness for children across the country who will miss varying amounts of schooling as a result of isolation and local lockdowns.’
Private and state schools prepare for exam alternatives
A working group of education professionals has been set up to discuss alternatives to traditional exam qualifications.
According to the Guardian, the group – named Rethinking Assessments – has been set up and backed by Margaret Thatcher’s education secretary Kenneth Clark, who created GCSEs.
The group of schools includes Eton, Bedales, St Paul’s girls’ school, Latymer upper school and several substantial academy chains.
It is expected they will launch a formal campaign in the coming weeks.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, who has been meeting members of the group, told the paper: ‘If a few of the big multi-academy trusts say: “Actually, we don’t think GCSEs work for our young people – we think this other qualification would,” it would start changing the narrative. That would be a defining moment.’
Alternative measures being considered include peer-reviewed exams where teachers from neighbouring schools mark each other’s papers.
Other schools are looking at alternative qualifications such as AQA’s Extended Project Qualifications, where students write a research-based thesis worth the equivalent of an AS-level.