Ashfield MP is urging the Secretary of State for Education to give more support to GCSE and A Level students

The MP for Ashfield and Eastwood has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE, urging more support for youngsters sitting their GCSE and A Level exams next year.

Thursday, 19th November 2020, 2:14 pm

Lee Anderson’s letter follows a remote Teams meeting with Year 11 and 13 students from schools throughout the constituency where Mr Anderson asked the students to be brutally honest about their thoughts on the 2021 exams.

Among these concerns, students informed Mr Anderson that studying from home had been difficult during the first national lockdown, many did not know how to self-learn and felt they had suffered from the lack of teacher presence, work could not be checked for understanding and as a result, classes are now revisiting this work and this means they are falling further behind in the curriculum and struggling to fit all the syllabus.

Mr Anderson said: “Back in March 2020, the entire world hurried to learn more about the virus and countries closed their schools as a result.

MP Lee Anderson has written to the Secretary of State for Education

"Eight months on, we are in a much better position in understanding Covid-19 and our schools are now back open and I know how hard they are working to help students prepare for the 2021 exams.

“This is such an important time for those in Years 11 and 13 and I wanted to hear directly from them. Having spoken to the students, the key issues highlighted to me were that not every student is in the same situation.

"Some students had their own room to study in with their own computer. Others had arguing parents, rowdy siblings and no ICT. The equality gap has widened as a result.

"Those in private schools had a totally different experience to those in local state schools. The youngsters are now playing catch up with content being rushed in order to squeeze the curriculum in.

"Not every school taught in the same way. Some had better systems in place to start with, some had Zoom class meetings. Others did not have any system at all. Some students have missed even more time, one boy has had to self-isolate twice therefore missing four weeks since September. He has now fallen even further behind, an issue I know will affect students right across the country.

"Quarrydale Academy has now closed completely for a week. Some schools are using agency staff to cover those staff having to self-isolate who aren’t teachers of the subject they are having to teach. This is also extremely expensive for the school.

“Finally, science exams have a practical part to be assessed and questions on the paper that relate to practical work, some students haven’t been in the lab since March so can’t pass this part of the exam.

"Further, there is risk that these students will be competing for university places with students from Wales and Scotland – English students will be at a disadvantage.

"Teachers have expressed to me their concerns that students have been petrified about mock exams with many having panic attacks. This is extremely concerning.”

Mr Anderson has urged the Department for Education to look into the issues raised by young people in Ashfield and provide assurance action will be taken to address these so that GCSE and A-levels will be able to go ahead in 2021 fairly.

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