Thank you for your understanding whilst we awaited further details regarding the vocational examinations which are taking place this month. We had hoped that there would be more information regarding these in Gavin Williamson’s parliamentary address this afternoon, but unfortunately this was not the case. We had already been notified yesterday evening that schools were able to decide for themselves whether to continue with the vocational exams where ‘they judge it right to do so’. There was no clarification as to what this means, nor the consequences of a decision either way.
We recognise that there will be mixed emotions regarding the examinations starting next week. There will be many students who feel well prepared for the assessment and will be desperate for these to go ahead. Similarly, some students will be feeling anxious about the disruption which they have had to their learning as a result of periods of isolation etc, and there will invariably be a third group with a mixture of these students who do not feel sufficiently safe in the current climate to attend school to complete these examinations.
OCR, the exam board which delivers the Cambridge National and Technical qualifications, has provided the following information:
‘If students do not take our exams this January, there may be an opportunity to take their assessment at a future date. If this is not possible due to arrangements still to be announced for this summer, we’ll work with the DfE and Ofqual to make sure they are treated fairly.’
Whilst this is still not entirely clear, it appears to imply that students who are not leaving this summer will be expected to complete these assessments at a later date. If students are certificating their qualification this year, we would expect that these would be included in any strategy implemented by the government to award grades in the absence of examinations.
In summary, we feel that running the exams this month is the right thing to do and that students have nothing to lose, no matter how they perform. We will be making additional arrangements for the exam venues to be Covid secure but, if you and your son or daughter do not feel it is safe to attend, we will of course understand, but ask that you confirm this via email to Mrs. Shaw at email@example.com.
We understand that this situation is not straightforward and if you have any further questions please contact either myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mr. Goodman, deputy headteacher, at email@example.com