The government must “urgently” set out the exam adaptations that can be used by an estimated 130,000 students sitting BTEC and other technical assessments in January, the Labour Party has said.
Shadow education secretary Kate Green today called it “unforgivable” that ministers had “neglected” these learners in their plans for aiding GCSE and A-level exams in 2021.
She said the government must “urgently” set out the adaptions for the January exams, so they “are fair for students whose learning has been severely disrupted” by having to self-isolate, or by having their practical lessons changed so they are Covid-safe.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson announced earlier this month students sitting exams next summer will be graded more generously and will have advance notice of certain topics along with “exam aids”, promising that more details about these adaptations would not be published until “the end of January”.
He added that Ofqual was working with awarding bodies to “make sure that students studying for vocational and technical qualifications and other general qualifications benefit from the same generous approach”.
The exams regulator had announced in September awarding bodies would be allowed to adapt their assessment arrangements to mitigate any impact of the pandemic – but this did not include the flexibilities announced earlier this month.
The 130,000 student figure is based on an estimate by the Association of Colleges. Its chief executive, David Hughes, said that January will “see the biggest set of exams since the onset of Covid-19”.
“These exams are also much more complex than academic exams, given the nature of technical and vocational education and training,” he added.
“Colleges have worked incredibly hard to keep learning and training happening, whilst keeping students and staff safe but we are particularly worried about those students who have lost learning time.
“More needs to be done to ensure that they are not disadvantaged, with contingencies and allowances wherever possible and required.”
The Department for Education was approached for comment.