After months of insisting A-level and GCSE exams in England would go ahead, the federal government confirmed this week they would be cancelled, with Northern Eire additionally cancelling exams on Wednesday night time. This follows the precedent set by Wales and Scotland, which made the announcement months in the past.
The Guardian spoke to 4 faculty college students about their response.
‘There’s no manner exams might go forward, it wouldn’t be a level-playing subject’
In Sheffield, 16-year-old James Childs mentioned that whereas he needed to take a seat his GCSEs, making college students take them as regular would have been unfair. Since he had returned to high school in September, he had been required to self-isolate 3 times, lacking six weeks of in-person studying, whereas some college students had not needed to isolate in any respect.
“I don’t suppose that being at residence is similar as being at college, since you miss out on class discussions and the sharing of concepts, it’s not the identical when it’s a powerpoint and a worksheet,” he mentioned. “Actually, there’s no manner exams might go forward, as a result of it wouldn’t be a level-playing subject. I do know some children who haven’t remoted as soon as, and others who’ve needed to isolate for each [coronavirus] case in our 12 months group. It simply wouldn’t be honest.”
Childs felt pissed off concerning the authorities’s communication over exams. “From September, the federal government stored insisting they wouldn’t cancel exams, then with the announcement on Monday, they mentioned that exams couldn’t go forward however that there could be different preparations, ” he mentioned. “However, you suppose, what’s that different association? You shouldn’t have executed that till you’ve bought a concrete plan.”
‘I fear that probably the most deprived college students will miss out on honest grades’
Grace Leaman, who’s learning A-levels in historical past, English literature and philosophy in Dover, mentioned she would have most well-liked to take a seat her exams, as they had been probably the most honest and correct technique of assessing college students. “Folks have a tendency to not work as effectively all year long,” Leaman, 18, mentioned. “They aren’t as motivated, or they produce other issues to do like college functions. There’s a unique mindset in the course of the end-of-year exams, as a result of that these exams will get you into uni.”
Leaman felt the federal government had not actually understood the impression their dealing with of exams had had on college students.
“Final 12 months, the problems with the algorithm [which undermarked many students], confirmed the federal government didn’t belief the opinions of lecturers who had been instructing college students all year long,” she mentioned. “I perceive the federal government must take care of it one way or the other, however I don’t suppose they realised how heartbroken folks had been, and the way anxious they’ve been by way of the pandemic to get the grades they deserve.
“I do fear that probably the most deprived college students will miss out on honest grades,” she added, “due to their lecturers underestimating their capacity by way of centre-assessed grades, or one other classist algorithm which forgets the humanity of a kid and reduces them to a letter which doesn’t characterize their true capacity.”
‘One other 12 months has been wasted’
For 19-year-old Omer, additionally from Sheffield, the information was deeply disappointing, and he anxious it might have severe implications for his future profession as he can not resit an examination to attain the grades he’ll want.
“I used to be learning for my A-levels final 12 months, however I didn’t get the grades I needed to do nursing, so I believed I’d resit my A-level biology this 12 months,” he mentioned. “I had a mock examination arising in a couple of weeks, however that bought cancelled, so now they don’t have something to make use of for my centre-assessed grades.”
Omer mentioned it felt like “one other 12 months has been wasted”.
“I ready for it [the exam] actually, rather well,” he mentioned. “I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I’ve bought my grades from final 12 months, however I needed to enhance them and do a course I actually needed to do. It’s actually irritating and traumatic.”
‘It’s been very traumatic’
Max Hamilton, a 17-year-old pupil taking A-levels in English literature, historical past, and sociology in Cambridgeshire, described the cancellation of exams as “too little, too late”.
“The dearth of readability given to college students who’re sitting exams in summer season is actually astounding,” he mentioned. “All through all lockdowns, college students have lacked efficient communication with the federal government and have been handled virtually as an afterthought.
“The previous two years have been extraordinarily strenuous for college kids, as a consequence of uncertainty and having to adapt to distant studying each in lockdown and whereas self-isolating. It’s been very traumatic. Even over the Christmas holidays, I haven’t been in a position to focus correctly due to all of the stress.”
Whereas Hamilton was involved concerning the implications of non-public opinion or bias in teacher-assessed grades, significantly for these from deprived backgrounds or folks of color, he was relieved exams wouldn’t be going forward.
“I’m grateful that the federal government has lastly listened to cause and closed colleges, which is able to hopefully forestall hundreds of potential instances and deaths on account of transmission between college students and weak folks,” he mentioned. “I’ll miss the chance to point out my expertise, however you’ll be able to’t present your expertise if you happen to don’t know the content material.”