Another day and more significant information to tell you about following statements by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education on Wednesday evening.
Firstly, these announcements do not change the decision that we shared yesterday. It is still the case that:
- From Friday 20th March, and for the foreseeable future, all students will work remotely and the college transport system will cease.
- It is the expectation that students and staff will continue to work according to their normal timetable. There will need to be flexibility about the actual times in the day that people work but we should all be aiming to deliver our normal working hours unless we are sick.
- Teaching teams will set work for the week, be clear about how students should access this work and the process for students to submit work for assessment and then receive feedback.
- We are all continuing to towards our planned schemes of work and assessment schedules. (more on this later in the email)
Given this, there are some updates I need to share:
- No end of year assessments
The government confirmed that there will be no assessments or exams for this academic year. This definitely includes A levels and GCSEs and almost certainly includes BTEC qualifications and other level 3 qualifications such as Criminology, EPQs and Core Maths.
We have not yet received any guidance about how the grades that students receive will be decided but we assume this will be on the basis of your work during your studies.
Action – You all need to make sure that your files for every subject are well organised, up to date and contain all of your best work. These may be needed as evidence, especially if you are expecting to get better grades at college than you did at school.
I know you will be keen to know what grade you will get. However, that is something that we simply can’t say at this stage. You know how well you are doing in your recent assessments and some of you will shortly receive feedback on the recent mock examinations and have received UCAS predicted grades. Please do not ask your teachers for a predicted grade. They cannot give you one.
- Continuing to teach students who were working towards final assessments
It does feel very unfair not to have the opportunity to prove yourselves in your final assessments. However, that is not a reason to stop working:
- Qualifications are not about the examination or assessment, they are about you gaining knowledge and skills in your subject areas. Just because you don’t have a final assessment, you still need to know and be able to do this stuff!
- We have made a commitment to continue to teach and support you until the end of your course. We will set you weekly material to engage in and we will assess and feedback on your progress with this.
- During the time of remote working we will continue to monitor your engagement and intervene if you are not engaging appropriately. You are still a Wyke student! We have made our expectations clear and we will enforce these expectations. Failure to complete the work could impact on your final outcomes and any reference we may provide you.
- Ultimately we don’t know how this will play out. It may be that the government will change its mind (not unheard of, ask the DUP about Boris) and it is our duty to make sure that you are best prepared for whatever you may be asked to do in terms of justifying your final grades.
- I have just heard news that it is likely that there will be a resit opportunity for students in some courses in the autumn. This only reinforces the need for you to be as prepared as possible.
Essentially, we will continue to work as if the exams are still happening and we will ensure that you have the best possible preparation you can. The government’s announcement doesn’t change that.
I have asked all teams to be particularly firm about chasing up students who don’t engage in remote working in the first week. You have been warned!
- Keeping the college open for key workers and vulnerable students including over Easter
It is still not entirely clear what this means for a sixth form college. I will let you know further details in my briefing tomorrow.
- Recognising students who are leaving this year
I have spoken to a few of you today who are very sad about the prospect of not attending college again during your time with us. If things have settled down sufficiently, it is our strong intention to plan some form of graduation event for all this year’s leavers so that you can come and celebrate your achievements and say a proper good bye to staff. Hopefully we might be able to do something similar with Sports Pres . . . .
- Mental health and wellbeing
This is a troubling time for all of us. College provides routine, social contact and purpose. For some, the prospect of a prolonged period of remote working is frightening. Please can we all put some thought into how we can support each other through this time. If you do not feel you are getting the support you need, please do get in touch.
That’s it for now, hopefully I will have more detail about how the assessment system will actually work in the near future.
Good luck, keep in touch and keep working.
Principal Paul Britton