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NAHT requests advance notice of contingency plans for GCSEs and A Levels in 2022

Paul Whiteman

Today, school leaders’ union NAHT has submitted a request to the government for schools and colleges to be informed in September about the contingency arrangements for GCSEs and A Levels in 2022.

This year, contingency information was not shared until March, meaning that school and college staff then had little more than half a term to implement those processes.

The union strongly believes that centres should be provided with advance notice at the start of the autumn term so that teachers can effectively plan teaching and learning time and react quickly to any further disruption in the next academic year.

The request is included in NAHT’s response to  the Department for Education and Ofqual’s consultation on proposed changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2022, which closes today.

In the consultation document, NAHT says:

“The government must trust the profession with this information early in the academic year to enable them to do the very best for each of their students, ensuring they cover as much of the specification as possible and that they are well prepared for the exams and assessments which allow them to progress to the next stage of education, training or employment.

“Staff and students preparing for exams in 2022 have endured significant disruption to teaching and learning over the course of the last year; the first full year of their courses. While we hope the next academic year won’t see the same levels of disruption, learning time has already been lost.”

NAHT has chosen to make this request in the interests of fairness for students, particularly those from so-called disadvantaged backgrounds, who appear to have been hardest hit by the COVID pandemic, according to research.

NAHT’s request cites research from the exams regulator Ofqual, which reports a gap of 1.2 hours per day of study time between the most socioeconomically disadvantaged households and the most advantaged households in secondary aged pupils

This comes after social mobility charity The Sutton Trust estimated that, compared to a normal year, secondary school children from high socioeconomic groups experienced an average learning loss of 21% compared to 34% for those from low socioeconomic groups.

Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s general secretary, said:

“In the next academic year, it will be impossible to find the additional hours needed to ‘make up’ the lost learning time for every student. This is the case even with the tutoring programme and the additional sessions which teachers in every school will offer to support their students.

“If advance notice is provided only at some point in the spring term 2022, this will be unfair on students who have seen more disruption than others. In order to have the desired impact on teaching and learning and reducing the differential impact of the pandemic on students, schools and colleges must be provided with the information at the beginning of the autumn term 2021.”

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