The Secretary of Education encourages parents to track teachers who do not achieve distance learning goals.
After Education Secretary Gavin Williamson refused to clarify how students earn exam grades this summer and threatened teachers with inspections, weeks of uncertainty in England’s schools deepened on Wednesday.
The uncertainty came as principals around the nation announced that amid the national lockdown, elementary school is being overwhelmed with students, and urged parents to be frank about whether they are really key employees and need the emergency provision.
Williamson said in a speech at the House of Commons on Wednesday that it was “time to trust teachers, not algorithms” and that school-based tests would be used to grant GCSE and A-level grades to prevent a repeat of the examination disaster of last year.
But in the same breath, for three to five hours of distance learning a day, Williamson encouraged parents to notify teachers they feel are not meeting the government’s new objectives, and said Ofsted inspectors will be called in to investigate their concerns.
Principals were disappointed by the lack of support or information in the statement on how to prepare employees and students for grade evaluations at A level, GCSE and BTec, after schools admitted by Boris Johnson would have to continue distance learning beyond February.
We have repeatedly called on the government and the regulator to prepare such a plan in case examinations are cancelled, and we have repeatedly offered to work with them on this,”It is frustrating that there is no ready-made plan B that is operational. We have repeatedly called on the government and the regulator to prepare such a plan in case exams are cancelled, and we have repeatedly offered to work with them on this,”It is frustrating that there is no ready-made plan B that is operational.
Nevertheless, ministers have been so busy ensuring that the assessments will take place that they have neglected to ensure that there is a mechanism of contingency that can be installed immediately. This is, frankly, a dereliction of duty.
A massive increase in demand for places for the children of key staff was announced yesterday by schools across England. One elementary school in Manchester said the number of pupils had risen from 30 during the first lockdown in March to more than 200, from a total of 500 on the roll.
In part, the rise was prompted by new guidelines from the Department of Education (DfE) widening the definition of “critical workers” to include university staff and other professionals, while the DfE also requires students who do not have access to digital technology or sufficient home learning space to attend school.
University employers have written to their workers this week in centers such as Oxford, London and Nottingham to highlight the eligibility of their children for school places, including among parents who work from home.
Children classified by the government as vulnerable include those encouraged to attend school in person, for whom school is expected to be a significant place of protection.
Alternative choices and special schools remain available as well.
The statement by Williamson gave schools no clarification about how to interpret the scores. He said that “the Department and Ofqual have already worked out a range of contingency options” but that “the details will need to be fine-tuned in consultation with Ofqual, exam boards and representatives of the teaching community.”
Government sources claim that one choice being discussed is close to the model used in Wales, with the introduction of standardized tests for key subjects such as math and English ‘educated’ by school evaluations.
Assessments are produced and scored externally in Wales by the WJEC exam board.
Williamson confirmed that sats – nationwide standardized exams taken in second and sixth grades in elementary school – will also be scrapped this year in response to a question from an MP. This decision shocked principals, and some believed that it was not meant to happen at all by Williamson.
For teachers, who must also provide distance education for those who stay home, the rush of students to attend school in person has compounded difficulties. Williamson shocked the profession again by announcing a new universal requirement for “high-quality” distance education of up to five hours per day, depending on the child’s age.
“If parents assume that the school of their child does not provide sufficient distance education, they should lift their concerns