The Education Secretary has written a letter to MPs, outlining the changes to A-Level and vocational results after yesterday's announcement. You can read this here.
Further to my update yesterday I attended a virtual meeting with both the Schools Minister and the Universities Minister late yesterday evening to raise outstanding issues regarding A-levels and GCSE results.
In the meeting, the Ministers made clear that they will be writing to Vice-Chancellors across the country to advise them that the government will be removing the cap on student admissions number, and to ask universities to honour as many places that they can, up to capacity. The government will also work with universities to expand placement capacity in the future. It is my understanding that many universities have reserved placements in anticipation of those who will need to go through the appeals process.
The government is also working with UCAS on a system on the UCAS dashboard to allow students to "self-remove" their second choices in the coming days. This should help universities to better anticipate and work out their expected demand. However, I would suggest that students should talk to their first-choice admissions department to make sure that they are secure in their placement before doing
I know that the upcoming week will be a busy one for university admissions departments, but it is very important for students to get in touch with them directly to confirm the status of their application.
Whilst neither myself nor the government has direct control over the universities, I will do what I can within my capacity as MP to help. If there are any students still in limbo about their future, please let me know if you would like to discuss any specific elements of your case and either myself or a member of my team will be in touch.
You may have heard of Ofqual's statement earlier today to revert to teacher-assessed grades for both A-levels and GCSE. Subsequently, the Education Secretary apologised for the distress caused by the inconsistencies of the algorithm.
I know that this weekend has not been easy for many parents and students in our area. On Thursday I got in touch with John Leggott College to offer my help on this issue, and on Friday my office was part of a meeting with the Universities Minister which highlighted the problems faced as a result of the algorithm.
My team and I continued to work through the weekend to address the concerns raised by students and parents and make representations on their behalf. Before the announcement, I once again conveyed my strong feelings about this issue to the government. I know that there is no easy solution to this, but I am relieved that they have listened to residents and MPs such as myself. Ultimately this is a decision that would ensure that students in our area will not lose out compared to others.
I want to let all residents know that I will continue to follow developments closely, and will provide you with further updates once I get them.
I know that, like myself, a lot of parents have been worried about the impact of coronavirus on their children's exam results.
Earlier this year the government decided to cancel exams in light of coronavirus. There has been a lot of work to ensure that results should be fair - the grades students receive tomorrow will be based on the grades their teachers have submitted, and have been moderated by exam boards to make sure the same standard is applied for all students, whichever school, college or part of the country they come from.
Whilst measures have been taken to ensure that there won't be "gradeflation" that will impact current and future students, I feel strongly that students in our area should not be disadvantaged through Ofqual's calculations.
The government's "Triple lock" promise to students aims to prevent this from happening.
After getting their results, students can
1. accept their calculated grade
2. appeal to receive a valid mock result, or
3. sit autumn exams to ensure their achievements are recognised.
This will provide an additional safety net to the system of calculated grades, which is the fairest possible approach in the absence of exams.
Students who would like to use a valid mock result will be able to do so through the appeals process. Schools and colleges will also be able to appeal if they believe their historic data does not reflect the ability of their current students.
Students could also choose to sit exams in the autumn, and schools and colleges will be provided with £30 million to help with the associated costs. This funding will help with the costs of running these exams, including booking venues, sourcing invigilators, and meeting the cost of autumn exam fees if they exceed summer fee rebates. Students can then choose whether or not they want to use this result.
Please refer to the gov.uk website advice (which includes some useful helplines) here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/your-results-what-next for further details. Do get in touch with me directly if you have any further questions or if you need my help.
The government is also doing all they can to make sure that our students are given the opportunities they deserve. This includes:
- A Kickstart Scheme, which will create hundreds of thousands of high quality jobs for young people at the highest risk of long-term unemployment – helping to build skills, experience and confidence in the workplace. The government is funding jobs created under this scheme for 16-24 year-olds, covering 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, for six months in total.
- High-quality traineeships for young people – through extra funding this year for traineeships in England, to fund high quality work placements and training for 16-24 year olds. For the first time ever, the government will fund employers who provide trainees with work experience, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee. We will also increase the eligibility of Traineeships to include young people qualified up to Level 3, up from Level 2 currently.
- Providing £2,000 to employers for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, helping more people into the workplace while developing key skills.
- Giving young people who have just left school the skills they need to find work in high-value sectors, such as engineering, construction and social care. The government is providing funding to 18 and 19 year olds to take high-value courses at Levels 2 and 3 where work opportunities are not available.
- Expanding the support on offer to help people find a job, so they can get back on their feet and into work – for example, we are doubling the number of Work Coaches through Job Centre Plus, and we will recruit more advisers for the National Careers Service.
Locally I have brought these opportunities to the attention of local business owners, and I have been working with North Lincs Council on a "jobs fair" so that these opportunities will benefit our residents.