The secretary of education, Gavin Williamson, informed the whole of the United Kingdom through a TV public announcement that all primary and secondary education establishments in the country are to be closed and that no exams will take place in May and June of this year. These significant measures were all taken to counteract the possible damage that the novel coronavirus could do if a lockdown would not be imposed on the country.
Many things change from day to the next, and new policies are being continuously discussed and introduced. So, let’s examine how the education system holds up and what is the official plan of action from the government as of right now.
Will Any Other Exams Take Place?
The official announcement and the guidelines on the new education policies found on the British government website categorically denied any possibility of the summer exams occurring this year. This means that even in such cases where the coronavirus pandemic turns out to pose not as much of a threat or a cheap and effective vaccine is manufactured, still, the exams will not happen.
These pieces of news have put a lot of people in a state of confusion and left parents wondering whether their children will get even a chance to apply to a higher education establishment, let alone attend it in person. Even both the public and private school officials were left clueless about what to do. A significant number of private schools wanted to conduct their own exams in order to grade their pupils so that the graduating students would have something to show to the universities during the application.
That idea, however, was quickly denied by the British government. It was stated that even if such exams would take place (which is on its own impossible, as the schools have to stay closed to everybody except for vital staff) the results of such examinations could not be used in applying to a university or college.
Do No Exams Mean No Application?
Although the British government has implemented severe and drastic measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government representatives expressed a desire to preserve the natural flow of the application process of prospective students to higher education establishments. How will they be able to achieve without any standardized exams to prove the knowledge and capabilities of each and every student?
With exams missing, the government entity responsible for regulating exams, Ofqual developed an entirely new system of grading all students without students undergoing any testing whatsoever. Yes, a system that requires writing and completing no official UK essays, tests, problem-solving, etc. This system will give final grades for GCSEs and L-levels to students to be used in their application for the application process of Fall 2020.
How Will the Grading Occur?
The grading system is supposed to be a holistic review of the student’s previous performance. The predictions will be standardized and centralized nationally, so the final results will be as fair as it is humanely possible.
The teachers of schools and colleges will be contacted by Ofqual representatives to share their judgments on their students, and assess how well their students would perform in a real examination scenario. This worried numerous students all over the UK, as many students do not have great relationships with their teachers.
The officials indicated that to battle bias, a number of other aspects would contribute to the final grade, which includes homework results, mock exam grades, general performance in class, and participation in other activities. Additionally, the background of the students will be a factor that is considered in the final assessment in order to eliminate the wealthiness bias.
What If the Student Does Not Agree with Their Results?
There will be an appeal system for the students put in place that will allow students that do not agree with their assessment to send a reconsideration request. Ofqual has not yet revealed how this system will work, as they are still working out the algorithm of the appeal process.
Additionally, it was stated that the students would also be able to take the exams in the next academic year (if it will not be postponed). However, this means that the results will be used for the academic that follows the one in which they were undergoing exams. For example, if the student passes A-levels in the Fall of 2020, the results could only be used for the application process of Fall 2021 (again, if no new delays or cancellation are imposed).
The Chaotic Situation
This is what the students, their parents, and schools have to deal with for now. The application process for the Fall of 2020 seems already to be in jeopardy. Government officials are trying to keep the situation from spinning out of control. However, nobody can honestly predict what the global pandemic will be like a month from now, so the only thing left to do for regular people is to stay at home and hope for the best.