Schools chief urges ministers to cancel SATs, GCSEs and A levels again

A leading councillor has asked the government to cancel the exams scheduled for the end of the current school year.

This would mean no SATs for primary school children at the end of year 2 and year 6 as well as no GCSEs and A levels for older pupils again.

The plea was made as schools and colleges continue to use a mix of classroom lessons and online learning from home as they respond to the government’s coronavirus measures.

Green councillor Hannah Clare, the deputy leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said that she had written to the Conservative Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Councillor Clare, who chairs the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, wants schools and colleges to have the time and chance to prepare alternative assessments.

In her letter she said: “We welcome last year’s decision to cancel examinations despite the later challenges created by the algorithm used for teacher-assessed grades.

“We believe this is an appropriate decision to make again this year.

“However, the longer we wait until the decision to cancel is made, the more likely it is that schools and pupils will be unprepared for whatever comes next.

“We ask if you can give our schools clarity now on whether coursework will be used to inform grades or teacher-assessed grades again so that they can prepare their students.”

Councillor Clare told a “virtual” meeting of the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee today (Monday 9 November): “The longer we wait for this cancellation, the more likely it is schools and colleges will be unprepared for it – so we’d welcome them following the Welsh government cancelling them now rather than later.”

In her letter to Mr Williamson, she asked for regular rapid testing for schools and colleges as well as funding for PPE (protective personal equipment) for staff and students.

Councillor Clare also called on the government to issue its guidance to schools in good time so that staff can prepare for learning.

She also asked for more funding to help schools to budget for increased cleaning as well as hand washing.

And she praised school staff and council officials for their work to make schools safe and develop new risk assessments on ventilating classrooms over the winter while keeping teachers and pupils safe.

Councillor Hannah Clare

Councillor Clare added: “Having had an earlier lockdown period this year, I would be worried about the impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

“It is partially for this reason that the Green group put forward a notice of motion at October’s full council to review the impact of the pandemic on the wellbeing of all.

“Having previously worked in a school myself, I also know that staff are often the people who spot early warning signs among some of the most vulnerable children and intervene to protect their welfare.”

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