What is happening with A-level, GCSE KS2 Sats and University Entrance exams in 2021?

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Just when we thought that the Covid-19 had already caused enough havoc with education in 2020, it reared its head again and has already brought the education world to its knees again in 2021. As school children around the country have been off school since December and have only just returned, it has meant that exams in 2021 are being put on the back burner yet again.

Last year’s learnings, this year’s exams

Last year could have been considered a fiasco with the grading errors and entry requirements for university and so, the government wants to avoid all of this again by ensuring they are properly equipped to handle the impact of children not being in education. As a result, GCSE and A-level exams have been scrapped, giving teachers the responsibility of providing assessed grades based on their performance through the year while KS2 Sats have been cancelled. The goal is to put trust in teachers and avoid relying on algorithms that failed so miserably last year.

The government’s stance to national education decisions

The decision was not made easily but in hindsight proves to be a useful tool and now, the government does not want to make significant errors again. Therefore, all of the UK nations have made the decision to drop summer exams as a result of the winter school closures. With learning moved online, Children are still not given the same level of learning as they are when they are in class and that would be reflected in their exams if they went ahead and that is the decision to change things this year.

Fairness in the education system

While the cancellation of exams might seem drastic, it is very much needed to ensure that things remain fair for pupils across the board. However, pupils and students should not be penalised at the mercy of a poorly created algorithm and this is where teacher assessments will come into effect. In reality, the exam results in 2020 were not what was needed and the impact of that rippled throughout students and parents. While exams are considered the fairest way of assessing students and pupils, the pandemic has changed the course of the school year yet again which has meant that the exams are not going to go ahead.

Trust and digital support to drive the new normal

While the responsibility was stripped away from teachers last year, this year is different and they have now been given the trust to provide genuine assessments in place of exam results.

Teachers will be provided training and support to ensure that they can navigate the process with clarity and confidence to ensure that grades are awarded fairly and consistently throughout the entire country.

However, grades are not possible without the right digital support and over the last three months, the support has been provided in the form of laptops and tablets that were then distributed to those who need them.

The impact on university acceptance

The government wanted to do everything possible to avoid closing schools because of the impact it has on the present moment but also the future. With A-level students seeking places in University, their futures could be impacted but the decision to scrap all exams will help to provide a consistent approach when ensuring that they can transition into university as problem-free as possible.

While many people wanted to keep schools open, at a time when cases were increasing rapidly, it made sense to keep children at home. While schools were considered safe, the risk to parents and those involved around the school were at risk of adding to the increasing cases. So, it was disappointing that schools had to close but the aim this time around is to ensure that there is a more structured approach to exams and ensuring that the results are delivered in a fair and consistent way.

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