Dear Parents/Carers and Pupils,
As you know, on the evening of Monday 4th January the Prime Minister announced that the country is in a period of National Lockdown until February half term and that GCSE exams will not take place this summer. The Department for Education (DfE) have not yet confirmed what the process for awarding grades will be.
When this announcement was made on Monday evening, our immediate concern, as a school, was for our pupils, your children, scheduled to sit the OCR National Spoerts Science exam on the 11th January and OCR Enterprise & Marketing exam on the 13th January. We were not alone in this concern despite the DfE stating these exams would go ahead.
However, by Wednesday 6th January the government announced that schools and colleges can continue with the vocational and technical exams due to take place in January ‘where it is right to do so’. They pointed out that ‘this may be particularly important for vocational and technical qualifications which require a ‘licence to practise’, which can only be fulfilled through practical assessment.’
Therefore, we have had to make the decision as to whether our pupils should sit the exams scheduled for them on the 11th and 13th of January. We have examined ‘if it is right to do so’?
Infection rates are high nationally but what are the rates like in our local context? Do they present a risk to bringing pupils into school?
Answer: The infection transmission figures for Trafford are the highest in GM at over 300 per 100,000 people. Rates of Covid are increasing rapidly across Trafford. The new variant understandably raises additional concerns regarding spread, and particularly regarding the evidence that this variant is more infectious among children. There is significant risk in bringing children into school.
Do these qualifications require a ‘licence to practice’ which can only be fulfilled through this exam?
Answer: No. Therefore, sitting this exam at this point in time is not essential to our pupils being able to be awarded a grade at a later date or through alternative methods.
How would sitting/not sitting these exams impact our pupils from a mental health and well being point of view?
Answer: The only way to truly answer this was to consult with the pupils and parents. Given the very short time frame, this was difficult to do but we endeavoured to contact and discuss this with as many pupils affected as we could. The overwhelming majority of the pupils consulted felt anxious about coming to school and sitting the exam in the current climate.
Would the pupils be disadvantaged overall if they did not sit the exam at this point in time?
Answer: No. As the government have made it clear that exams should only be sat where ‘it is right to do so’ and particularly where vocational and technical qualifications require a ‘licence to practise’, which can only be fulfilled through practical assessment.’, all pupils who do not sit this component of the exam will not be disadvantaged.
Therefore, we have made the decision not to ask our pupils, your children, to sit OCR National Sports Science exam on the 11th January and OCR Enterprise & Marketing exam on the 13th January. I know this will be
disappointing for some. However, I hope you can see that this decision was not made lightly or flippantly and was done with the best interests of your child’s safety and education at heart.