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Concern struggling teenagers might be ‘doubly deprived’ by plans for exams

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Struggling pupils might be “doubly deprived” by plans to present advance discover just for more durable questions on this summer time’s GCSE and A-level exams.

Regardless of the surge in Covid-19 instances and absences of pupils and academics attributable to the Covid variant Omicron, the Division for Training and the evaluation watchdog Ofqual are urgent forward with plans for summer time exams.

At the beginning of November, the DfE confirmed that to compensate for Covid disruption to schooling, college students would get advance discover of what matters they are going to be examined on in 2022 to assist focus their revision. It will apply throughout all A-level topics and most GCSE topics.

Sources have advised i a selected level of competition is that advance discover will likely be centered on “greater tariff” questions – the questions scoring essentially the most marks.

With the very best attaining youngsters typically scoring essentially the most on these questions, there are fears that decrease attaining college students – who’re already more likely to have been hit more durable by Covid disruption – is not going to profit as a lot from the method.

One supply stated: “The emphasis goes to be on greater tariff questions. The questions that earn essentially the most marks and subsequently differentiate on the greater degree are those the place the largest consideration goes to be given, in order that’s the place they’re going to present some sense of what sort of questions will likely be requested and what sort of matters.

“The difficulty with doing that’s the youngsters on the decrease finish who could properly have been most deprived by all of this, truly once more might be doubly deprived.”

Preparations for the summer time exams are anticipated to be largely unchanged from what was laid out final yr. Exams will go forward, which means final yr’s instructor assessments are dropped, however additional “mitigations” will likely be allowed to compensate college students for disruption to their schooling attributable to the Covid pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Training Secretary Nadhim Zahawi stated the Authorities would “go forward with exams” in the summertime, “recognising that there was a lot disruption to college students’ finding out”.

The Workplace of {Qualifications} and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is about to substantiate on 7 February the preparations for the summer time – together with the element of the mitigations to make exams extra approachable for college students, similar to offering formulae sheets for equations in GCSE maths and sciences.

The supply added of the mitigations: “Individuals are going to be disenchanted, they’re going to assume this doesn’t go far sufficient. What that can then immediately unleash is a wave of individuals saying ‘these exams can’t be honest’.”

An Ofqual spokesperson stated: “The Authorities has confirmed its dedication to exams going forward this summer time. As already revealed, a package deal of unprecedented assist has been put in place. It will embody the publication of advance info, supposed to assist college students revise earlier than the summer time exams. The advance info covers over 300 examination specs, giving a way of its breadth. This method adopted a session and we’re assured that this can assist all college students. It might be mistaken to imagine that advance info on greater tariff questions will solely assist sure college students.

“On 9 December, examination boards revealed an outline of the advance info for every of their topics. All centres had been notified about this and it’s accessible on their web sites. The JCQ additionally revealed steering in October.”

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