Cancelled Exams 2021 Government Consultation

Cancelled Exams 2021 Government Consultation

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The details of the consultation are now available for you to read and respond to. It will end on Friday 29 January at 23:45. This is the link to the survey for you to respond if you wish HERE >> https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/8BYI4T

The important thing to me is that Private Candidates are certainly being considered and will be catered for somehow. There are 4 suggested options below that are included in the consultation. Which would suit your children best?

I would suggest that if you are planning to respond that you read the whole document as there are lots of points to be taken into account. This is the PDF with the full details which you will need to read first HERE>> https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-how-gcse-as-and-a-level-grades-should-be-awarded-in-summer-2021

This is the important part for Home Educators:

Private Candidates

We want to build into the approach opportunities for private candidates (for example students studying independently, and home educated students) to be awarded grades in summer 2021.

We believe there are 4 possible approaches:

(a) for private candidates to complete the papers set by the exam boards for use in schools and colleges. The exam boards would mark the papers (and any completed non-exam assessment) and issue a grade to the private candidate based on their performance.

(b) for private candidates to work with a school or college willing to assess the standard at which they are performing – using the same type of evidence the school and college is considering for its students.

(c) for the exam boards to run normal exams for private candidates to take in the summer of 2021 – appropriate venues would need to be provided.

(d) for the exam boards to run normal exams for private candidates to take in the autumn of 2021 – appropriate venues would need to be provided.

We wish to be confident that there will be a route available for all private candidates to receive a grade. We recognise that, given the pressures on schools and colleges created by the pandemic, and the potential public health considerations, schools and colleges might be reluctant to make entries for and then assess private candidates this year. We also wish to manage the costs to private candidates. We know of some private candidates who were unable to receive a grade in summer 2020 and who did not take the exams in the autumn who are particularly concerned about how the arrangements will work for them. For these students, and others, any further delay could have significant consequences for their progression. We are interested to know which of these options private candidates, in particular, would prefer were put in place. Private candidates will also need to be able to appeal their grade. The route for the appeal would need to align with the way their grade was determined.

Questions:

53. To what extent do you agree or disagree that private candidates should be able to complete the papers set by exam boards, with them marked by the exam boards?

54. To what extent do you agree or disagree that private candidates should be able to work with a school or college to produce the same type of evidence as the school or college’s other students?

55. To what extent do you agree or disagree that exam boards should run normal exams for private candidates in summer 2021?

56. To what extent do you agree or disagree that exam boards should run normal exams for private candidates in autumn 2021?

57. Do you have any comments on the options for how grades should be made available to private candidates?

58. If the preferred option for private candidates is an exam series, should any other students be permitted to enter to also sit an exam?

IGCSE’s are NOT being cancelled 2021

IGCSE’s are NOT being cancelled 2021

This is good news for Home Educated private candidates. Home Ed students could possibly consider swapping from GCSE to IGCSE but this depends on the subjects. You will need to look at and compare the syllabus to see if you would be able to cover any IGCSE content not covered in your GCSE studies before the exams dates.

Maths for example would be reasonably easy to swap.

From the BBC website:

The IGCSE exams, usually only taken in private schools, are still going ahead this summer – even though GCSEs and A-levels have been cancelled.

Exam boards that run IGCSEs plan to offer them, while many other exams have been stopped by the pandemic.

IGCSE qualifications, alternative exams to GCSEs, are not usually available in state schools.

Pupils in England whose A-levels and GCSEs are cancelled will depend on replacement grades from teachers.

But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s scrapping of exams this summer does not apply to students taking IGCSEs.

A Department for Education report in 2019 found 94% of IGCSEs were taken in private schools, accounting for 164,000 exam entries.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-55581576

National lockdown: Home Educators Exams in 2021, are they cancelled? Should I panic?

National lockdown: Home Educators Exams in 2021, are they cancelled? Should I panic?

Events are rapidly changing and I will endevour to keep this post up to date.

Thursday 7th 7:00pm

The Home Educators’ Qualifications Association (HEQA) has another meeting next Tuesday with ofqual to discuss the EXAMS situation. I will update you on my blog when I see the outcome information. If you have not heard of HEQA here is some information.

HEQA is an amazing group of very experienced Home Educators who have been meeting with ofqual to put the case forward for Home Educators to ensure we are not forgotten in the examination process.

Here is the information from their website https://heqa.uk/

Home educated children in the UK face a number of challenges relating to exams, including:

  • Explicit discrimination in policy, such as the 2020 exam replacement system, which excluded a large number of home-educated children
  • Difficulties finding suitable centres to sit exams
  • Access to exam preparation materials, such as past papers

The Home Educators’ Qualifications Association (HEQA) aims to make things easier.

HEQA provides a channel for home educators to talk to organisations involved in exams — Ofqual, the Department for Education, exam boards, etc. We aim to resolve exam-related difficulties for home-educated children, and avoid a repeat of the Summer 2020 crisis.

We welcome all home educators. If you’re interested in what we’re doing, take a look at the timeline. If you’d like to help us improve the exam situation, please sign up to our mailing list.

Thursday 7th 11:00am

Latest Update from ofqual

They mention Private Candidates (Independent Learners) which is very good news.

We know that this is a difficult time for students, their parents and carers, teachers and trainers. Our message to students is this: please continue to engage as fully as you can in your education. That will be online for the majority of students, or face-to-face for those students still going in to their school, college or training provider. This will put you in the best position, whatever arrangements are made for your qualifications. It’s important that teachers and students can focus on the knowledge and skills needed to equip students to progress to the next stage, whatever form that might take – whether to college, an apprenticeship, university or employment.

The way ahead is not straightforward: exams and standardised assessments are the fairest way of determining what a student knows and can do. We need to consider a wide range of qualifications – from A levels and GCSEs to many different vocational and technical qualifications – and the solution won’t be the same for all. Following the government’s announcement on Monday evening, we also need to consider how alternative arrangements will work for different students, including those who are independent learners. We are discussing alternative arrangements with the Department for Education. We know that many are seeking clarity as soon as possible. We will provide further updates as soon as we can.

The government has 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. This may be particularly important for vocational and technical qualifications which require a ‘licence to practise’, which can only be fulfilled through practical assessment.

Simon Lebus, Interim Chief Regulator, Ofqual
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/a-message-from-simon-lebus-chief-regulator-on-exams-in-2021

Wednesday 6th January 3:00pm

Education Secretary for England Gavin Williamson answered questions from MP’s in the Commons.

Joy Morrissey the MP for Beaconsfield asked:

Last year the approach to GCSEs and A-levels meant that private candidates such as Home Educated children were unable to obtain a grade. Can my right honourable friend confirm that this year, they will be able to do so.

Gavin Williamson replied:

I know that my honourable friend will be speaking not just many of her constituents in the question she asked, but actually many thousands of youngsters right across the country who will be really worried about this. I have asked Ofqual to take up this issue, to look at it directly, and to make sure that there are measures in place so that those those students are going to be in a position where they’re able to, be in a place where they’re able to get a grade [sic]. I have asked Ofqual to include it as part of their consultation which they will be doing next week and we’ve already discussed as to how this can be done and believe it will be possible to do so.

Written 5th January 2021, 4 hours after the lockdown announcement.

Boris mentioned changes to exams tonight in his speech about another lockdown, I have seen Home educators go into complete panic with in minutes. I just want to say, Don’t Panic! Stay calm and wait to see what happens. More information will be available at some point to help you make the decisions you need to make.

There are lots of Facebook groups for Home Educators to discuss their fears. You can join the AWE Home Education Facebook page HERE where our members are all talking about plans and ideas to cover all eventualities. We have input from exams officers and highly experienced Home Educators. Everyone is helping and supporting each other with advice and sympathetic ears!

My advice is to be aware that there are people who are spreading rumours and speculation as though it is facts, this is not very helpful. Try to seek out advice from people you can trust. Check out sources of information yourself. If you can pluck up courage read the .Gov announcements and check the exam board websites for announcements. Follow TES for updates.  

There are many Home Educators in the process of filling in forms, getting ID together and paying for their children’s exams in the next couple of weeks. To those people my advice is to go ahead. Keep records of your children’s exam course work and homework, date everything. Do practice papers under exam conditions and you could even consider video recording it with some kind of proof of the date and the child’s name. That is what I would be doing if my children had exams this year. Some people are considering not booking exams in case they are cancelled, but If you haven’t booked they definitely won’t be sitting their exam this year! Ask your exam centre to confirm that if the exams are cancelled they will give you a refund. I think it reasonable to expect them to deduct admin fees for the work they have to do but you should ask how much they will refund.

I don’t think it will be the same as Summer 2020, surely lessons have been learned and they have time to make arrangements for this Summer. Most importantly, try to keep your students committed to continuing their studies give them positive vibes. I have seen over the years how resourceful and adaptable Home Educators are. They usually find a way to help their children get to where they want to go. That’s the great thing about Home Education we don’t have to all do things the same way!

Keep positive and wait for further news.

Useful Links

Statement regarding Pearson general qualifications following today’s announcement on UK national restrictions (4 January 2020) HERE

Gov.uk National lockdown guidance – Going to school, college and university HERE

tes – National lockdown: DfE says January exams will go ahead HERE

AQA Exam Site HERE

Online tutoring during self-isolation and school closures for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic

Online tutoring during self-isolation and school closures for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic

Are you looking for online tutors? If so please read on. We can help with online tutors for Maths, English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, General Science, History and Geography

Many families are finding themselves in an unexpected position where they are suddenly responsible for their children’s education. This maybe due them self-isolating if they have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 or they may have underlying medical conditions in the family which has forced them to opt to keep their children at home to minimise the risk to loved ones. Others have found their child’s school closing with very little notice leaving them trying to arrange for child care as well as education.

Schools are giving varying levels of support and input to parents. Some have been given work for the children to complete at home, some have been given nothing. It’s all very worrying for parents. One of their concerns may be that their child could fall behind during the weeks or even months that they are not attending school. Another worry is how do you fill your child’s days with worthwhile activities. This is something I am pleased to say, I can actually help with. I have been arranging tutored group lessons for a great many years and work with a group of amazing teachers who are very experienced and who are able to utilise their skills to support children being temporarily Home Educated. So if you are a family who have found yourself with these concerns please get in touch so I can see how I can help.

Go to the AWE club website page HERE to see the list of online courses provided by AWE

We are able to provide families with access to AWE Online classes at KS2, KS3 and GCSE Level in Maths, English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, General Science, History and Geography. I can help with affordable online tutor led group lessons that take place during the daytime and will give your child’s days some structure and stability while helping to ensure they keep up with their education. Tutors are happy to set ‘homework’ to be completed between online lessons should you want it. I hope families will see this as a way for them to get the peace of mind that their child is receiving a suitable education leaving them with time to have fun and enjoy being together. I hope you all stay healthy and the experience of having your children at home is a positive and wonderful experience.

Please don’t feel this is your only option, you don’t have to use tutors. There are many ways for you to deal with your children’s educational requirements from books, projects, Apps or online resources. I home educated my own children throughout their school years and have helped my daughter to Home Educate my grandchildren. It has been an amazing and wonderful experience that changed my life and has resulted in me having about 17 years of experience when at the beginning I had only planned to Home Educate for three months. I use my knowledge and experience on a daily basis advising and supporting people through their Home Educating ups and downs. I know first-hand how you may be feeling at different times. There will be wonderful times but there will also be times you are concerned and uncertain, I hope that will be where I can help you.  If you need advice or ideas or want suggestions for how to proceed please get in touch and I will be happy to help if I can. My email is debbie@awediscounts.com

Home Education or Home Schooling due to School closures because of Coronavirus Covid 19

Home Education or Home Schooling due to School closures because of Coronavirus Covid 19

I am hearing of many parents who are deciding to remove their children from school due to fears over Coronavirus or being forced into the situation by school closures. This decision had many implications for the families concerned.  Many parents are suddenly responsible for their child’s education without any experience or time to research and formulate a plan of how to do so. This can be daunting and worrying for many however I wanted to take the opportunity to say don’t be scared, have fun! See this as an opportunity to enjoy doing things with your child. You may find Home Education suits your family and you could decided never to send them back to school. How wonderful, an amazing adventure awaits………..

My advice is don’t panic. You don’t need to replicate school in your house. You don’t need to sit your child in front of a pile of books all day insisting they work from 9am to 3pm. Home Education is a whole new way of thinking which when you let go of the fear and the panic can be a route to finding your child’s hidden talents and abilities. If you can take the time to follow their lead and watch what they enjoy and the things that spark their interest you can tailor their days to be fun, enjoyable and educational at the same time. Honestly, it is the best thing I have ever done!

Often we find that when children first come out of school they find it difficult to find ways to amuse themselves all day as they are so used to someone else deciding everything for them. At school they are always told where to be, what to do, what to think about and what to learn. There is not much freedom to make their own choices. This new opportunity to Home Educate them may leave some children a bit agitated, like they are asking “ what next” or “where now”. This mind set can take an amount of time to get away from. My advice would be to observe and understand what they are going through. Their lives have been restricted possibly, depending on their ages for many years. The sudden freedom can unsettle them and possibly make them restless while they adjust and find new ways to fill their days. Parents will often describe this period as the “climbing the walls” stage.

For other children the adjustment may be liberating they make wake up the first day and instantly know all the things they want to do and go about it with a passion. This particularly applies to children who have a passion for a particular activity. For example children who love to paint or draw will get out their drawing materials and enjoy the absolute freedom to indulge their passion for as much time as they wish unrestricted by bells and timetables. This may go on for many hours or even days or week. The same applies to children who enjoy playing a musical instrument. You may have the wonderful opportunity to observe their skills as they practice over and over striving to perfect their skills un burdened by time.

One fear that parents often have is that their children will spend endless hours on their screens. Phones, computers and tablets are often seen as a bad use of time. Once you start to Home Educate you will get the opportunity to actually use for educational purposes those same screens. Instead of seeing it as wasted time you may find you can actually use their love of screens to direct their learning. There are a great many educational resources used by Home Educators as a huge part of the education they are able to provide. In the case of young children what they think of as a game or a fun app can actually be teaching them at the same without the moans and groans you may experience should you try to teach them the same things while sitting at a desk with a workbook in front of them.  

Times tables are always a big worry and many parents ask what is the best and least painful way to teach them. I have found that the fun apps and computer based games are much more successful than the endless repetitive chanting. You may wish to look at PurpleMash which is an amazing application/programme which is actually used in hundreds of school but is accessible to parents who are Home Educating too. Purple Mash covers all the subjects that children learn at school from age 5 to 11. Its all done in a fun, game based way that children enjoy and look forward to doing, this can be such a help to parents. If you want to benefit for the discounted annual subscription that is available for Home Educators you can buy it with a 50% discount on www.awediscounts.com/purple-mash It will only cost you £15 with access for a whole year. So even if you only Home Educate during the school closures it is still affordable. You may even find that when your child goes back to school they will opt to use PurpleMash afterschool and at the weekends as a matter of choice as they enjoy it. If however you prefer you could try a non-screen based option which I have found to be really simple and effective for teaching times tables. It’s a card based game that demonstrates how simple it can actually be. Have a look at Tackling Tables as well as Tackling Addition and Subtraction www.awediscounts.com/tackling-tables-add-subtract I have used their system myself and found it amazingly straightforward and effective.

Another aspect to think about regarding screen time, is that you could use your child’s interest to give them the opportunity to use the skills and interests they have to learn about how all these gadgets actually work. After all by the time your child leaves education even more of our lives will probably be computerised. The world will need experts in all kinds of ways to make all our gadgets work. A great place to start with this would be by giving your child the chance to learn about the coding or programming that actually makes their screen time games and apps work. There are many ways to teach them coding or programming but parents are often worried as they themselves have never learnt it so they feel they are not qualified to teach their child. Luckily there are many ways for your child to learn that will not require your input. On the AWE Discounts website www.awediscounts.com you will find special discounts for a number of educational products that will facilitate this al all levels. For infant and primary age a great resource is Coding Park, who offer a 35% discount for Home Schoolers or Home Educators See  www.awediscounts.com/coding-park  It is so simple, from lesson one they will actually be coding. They gradually work their way through the levels learning new coding skills all the time. It’s a great resource and we are very grateful to Coding Park for supporting Home Educators with the discounted offer.

For older students who are more accomplished with a computing and programming you may like the opportunity to enable them to do an online BTEC course that is a recognised qualification that will look good on their CV and be accepted by college and employers as a worthwhile skill to have. Kanduit courses are completely run online at the students own pace without the need for them to sit an exam at the end. They are assessed as they go along by submitting assignments that are marked and returned to them with useful feedback. There are a number of courses available at different levels leading to various qualifications. Kanduit have been helping numerous Home Educated students through these qualifications and kindly allow us to offer them at a discounted price. This maybe a good option should you decide that your child is benefitting from being Home Educated and that you won’t send them back to school once the Coronavirus situation is resolved. We usually see that students get really engrossed in these courses and work on the assignments and lessons willingly for many hours each week. This is great for allowing them to learn in a more independent way working through the course in their own time as opposed to school based learning on one hour slots. It develops their ability to concentrate too. You can see the courses available on this link www.awediscounts.com/kanduit-online-ict-courses

You may find you are worried about their maths skills getting behind while they are not having daily lessons at school. I have always found that maths seems to be absorbed better when done regularly each day as opposed to once or twice a week. Its seems children need to practice what they learn and revisit some elements regularly  to reinforce them. A tried and tested resource than many Home Educators all over the World rely on as the bulk of their child’s maths curriculum is a great product called ConquerMaths. I have used this for many years with all my children and Grandchildren. The feeling I get from it is that I know that if the child works through the lessons in the programme they will cover everything they need to learn at all levels and ages from age 4 to 18. This has always given me the peace of mind to not worry so much about their maths education especially as it’s not my favourite area of expertise. It’s nice to give that responsibility to ConquerMaths and just watch my child develop their maths skills. ConquerMaths is another resource originally produced for school use that we Home Educators are grateful to have access to especially as they have very kind given us a very large 59% discount on an annual subscription, please note this offer will expire on 5th April so if you want to benefit from the discounted price go to this link www.awediscounts.com/conquermaths before then.  The programme works by showing the child short videos explaining a concept followed by on screen interactive questions that are marked instantly giving them the feedback they need to ensure they know if they are getting it right or need to go over that part again. I much prefer this to the old fashioned way of doing the questions then passing them to a teacher for marking and maybe waiting for a number of hours or days to find out if they have correctly learned the concept. It is hard to be given back a workbook a week after a lesson, see a lot of red crosses and have to then go back and try to work out what you were thinking and where it went wrong. This is a much better alternative.    

I hope you do enjoy this opportunity to be responsible for the education of your child. Once you get used to it, it can lead you to a truly wonderful way of life that will benefit the whole family. Good luck and stay healthy.

Debbie

Home Education and Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Home Education and Coronavirus (Covid-19)

If schools close in the Governments Coronavirus action plan, as stated in the ‘Delay phase’, then this is the perfect opportunity for parents/guardians/relatives to engage in short term Home Education. I’m sure that schools will supply teaching materials, but National Curriculum products like ConquerMaths, PurpleMash and ConquerComputing will assist if they are struggling.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has said the UK should expect “a substantial period of disruption” so this is not going away soon, as Home Educators we are well prepared to continue to educate our children at home, where the risk of catching Coronavirus is greatly reduced.

Stay safe everyone, and it goes without saying that we all should follow the NHS advice.

Happy Home Edding

Debbie