BTEC and other vocational exams to go ahead this week despite national lockdown, DfE confirms

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BTEC and other vocational exams will still go ahead this month despite the new national lockdown restrictions, the Department for Education has confirmed tonight.

The prime minister Boris Johnson announced this evening that schools and colleges will move to remote learning for most students from tomorrow and that summer exams will “not go ahead as normal”.

But a spokesperson for the DfE has told FE Week that the 135,000 BTEC and other technical exams starting from tomorrow and being sat over the next few weeks will go ahead as planned.

The government’s national lockdown guidance was published shortly after and states: “Public exams and vocational assessments scheduled to take place in January will go ahead as planned.”

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, believes this is the wrong decision.

He said: “I think they should be cancelled – it is not safe for them to go ahead and it is not fair for students nor for staff. The prime minister has said that everyone should stay at home as much as possible, so how can he expect college staff to go in to invigilate, or students to feel safe enough to sit exams?

“I cannot see any reason strong enough for them to go ahead, and to cancel the summer exams and not the January series is inexplicable. Attendance anyway would be low, and travel for students and staff will be difficult, so I hope that the DfE recognises the impossibility of the situation and announces a cancellation as soon as possible.”

Shadow apprenticeships abs lifelong learning minister Toby Perkins added: “It will be a huge disappointment to FE students and staff that BTEC exams didn’t even merit a mention in the PMs address to the nation.

“Once again it feels like BTEC students who have in many cases missed lots of practical coursework are an afterthought for this government.

“With the prime minister back-tracking on the position he laid out yesterday on schools, FE college leaders face running BTEC exams in empty colleges with underprepared and worried students.

“We need to see that government has truly thought through the implications of running these exams now and if BTEC students aren’t going to have a fair crack of the whip they should consider cancelling them.”

 



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46 Comments

  1. Baylie Seery

    It’s unfair on all students to be out under this much stress after not even ever sitting exams and then throwing most students into the deep end with a 3 hour exam. Completely unethical !!

    • Lesley-May Sanneh

      This is really unfair. These candidates had extremely patchy teaching between March and September. These last few vital classes before the exams have been cancelled. Online teaching is a myth in my granddaughter’s case; the teachers don’t show up and don’t deliver useful lessons. She has virtually taught herself the course content from the Internet and is so stressed due to the lack of feedback from teachers. How can these exams be deemed a fair assessment of ability under these circumstances.

  2. Mrs Sandra Shephard

    This is an absolute disgrace. My grandson is due to sit his BTec exam on Thursday, 7th January.

    He has two vulnerable parents, one a Type 1 diabetic, who are terrified that he will bring Covid home from school on that day. The fact that secondary schools have been closed from midnight tonight, and that it is well known that pupils of that age can contract the disease and spread it, should be enough to merit immediate cancellation of this examination.

    What is the point of a national lockdown, parents being told to work from home, and schools being closed, if loopholes like this are left open.

    My grandson’s mother is now agonising about whether or not to let him sit the exam on Thursday, and it isn’t fair that he may not be able to attend because he will be putting his family at risk. He could end up with both parents in hospital.

    Please reconsider the decision to let the exam go ahead. The increase in hospitalisation from Covid have been serious enough to warrant a national lockdown. That is exactly what should happen. I am desperately anxious for a cancellation.

    • So true. Their are vulnerable people at home and students could easily do exams come home and spread it. Its stupid. The government are stupid and never make sense. That is why New Zealand is so much better. Their PM is so much better and the government knows what they are doing unlike idiotic England!!!

  3. Mrs Sandra Shephard

    This is an absolute disgrace. My grandson is due to sit his BTec exam on Thursday, 7th January.

    He has two vulnerable parents, one a Type 1 diabetic, who are terrified that he will bring Covid home from school on that day. The fact that secondary schools have been closed from midnight tonight, and that it is well known that pupils of that age can contract the disease and spread it, should be enough to merit immediate cancellation of this examination.

    What is the point of a national lockdown, parents being told to work from home, and schools being closed, if loopholes like this are left open.

    My grandson’s mother is now agonising about whether or not to let him sit the exam on Thursday, and it isn’t fair that he may not be able to attend because he will be putting his family at risk. He could end up with both parents in hospital.

    Please reconsider the decision to let the exam go ahead. The increase in hospitalisation from Covid have been serious enough to warrant a national lockdown.

  4. This is another example of Lockdown not meaning Lockdown at all.

    The only way to get rid of this virus and to give the vaccines a fighting chance is to STAY AT HOME. And that means what it says even in the case of an exam and all the staff that are required to facilitate it and open the building for this unnecessary excuse.

  5. Mrs Sandra Shephard

    This is an absolute disgrace. My grandson is due to sit his BTec exam on Thursday, 7th January.

    He has two vulnerable parents, one a Type 1 diabetic, who are terrified that he will bring Covid home from school on that day. The fact that secondary schools have been closed from midnight tonight, and that it is well known that pupils of that age can contract the disease and spread it, should be enough to merit immediate cancellation of this examination.

    What is the point of a national lockdown, parents being told to work from home, and schools being closed, if loopholes like this are left open.

    My grandson’s mother is now agonising about whether or not to let him sit the exam on Thursday, and it isn’t fair that he may not be able to attend because he will be putting his family at risk. He could end up with both parents in hospital.

    Please reconsider the decision to let the exam go ahead. The increase in hospitalisation from Covid have been serious enough to warrant a national lockdown. My grandsons father is in the 65+ age group, and men are more at risk. I am really worried. My grandson’s first public exam should not be sat under this stress. In the end, I think he will not take the exam.

  6. Absolutely disgusting that these students are expected to sit these exams during a national lockdown. They have missed as much time as A level and GCSE students but are still required to sit them. Their anxiety levels will be through the roof and they are putting themselves and others at risk.

  7. This is another dreadful time for all BTEC students, forgotten Again !! My son is due to sit his exam this Friday, I’m shielding and working from home, petrified he’ll bring something home. Working in the Education sector, I totally understand, It’s not fair for staff or students to be asked to come in when all primary/secondary schools are closed from tomorrow. I hope the Govt announces to cancel these exams too!! It’s only fair for these students too.

  8. I dont understand why BTEC exams are going ahead if GCSES and A levels are about 4 months away but are being cancelled now, on the other hand BTEC exams are a few days away cases are at 50,000 and you are still going ahead with it? This is affecting millions of students mental health including mine. No one wants to risk their health just to go into college and take an exam. Its ridiculous and makes no sense!
    Where are our equal rights? Why do we need to do exams and other students not? We have the right to be treated equally we are all the same. If you are going to cancel exams then please cancel them for everyone else because this is getting absurd now.
    #makeitmakesense

  9. Annie Smith

    My daughter is having to take the exam yet GCSE and Alevels cancelled and we are in lockdown. How does this make any sense I think this is extremely unfair to those completing BTEC courses!

  10. As a btec student I am feeling extremely unprepared and after already receiving weeks of online learning it is not fair that we have to first worry over Christmas about exams in January alongside covid restrictions and secondly two days before finding out other students no longer have to sit there exams. To add to this I do not feel safe sitting in an exam hall with so many different students therefore putting me and my family at risk for who my parents are both key workers and one a nurse. These need to be cancelled!!!

  11. M Cadavid

    Once again vocational course are forgotten; the learner and staff in FE are under so much pressure and it is clear the lack of thoughts and opportunities.
    Some exam can take up to eleven hours.
    National lockdown but learners will have to travel and mixed with other people…

  12. M Cadavid

    Once again vocational course are forgotten; the learner and staff in FE are under so much pressure and it is clear the lack of thoughts and opportunities.
    Some exam can take up to eleven hours.
    National lockdown but learners will have to travel and mixed with other people…

  13. I am absolutely disgusted and disappointed in the government once again. How can you treat this students who have done nothing wrong so unfairly? What good will it do to them. I am terrified if my son being covid back at home I am 68 and have asthma and my husband can barely walk. Shame on you for ignoring the obvious.

  14. This is just disgusting. Those exams should be cancelled like the summer ones, how is it even safe for those youngsters to sit the exams and it’s not fair on them or staff. What about children with shielding members of their household? Pathetic.

  15. As a student myself, I find it ridiculous how the government are willing to put BTEC students at risk. During the first lockdown, I had to teach myself a lot of the curriculum and I struggled a lot not only with work, but with my mental health too and my peers were the same too!! We’re now being expected to do exams on things that have been very jumbled due to classes being cancelled and moved to online due to covid cases in different departments. Exams should be cancelled and grades should be made through the coursework we have to do, not through exams that are putting us at risk and that we aren’t properly prepared for!!

  16. Why would one set of pupils have rights that are denied to a different set exactly? Is this not discrimination, perhaps even on the grounds of agism.. covid knows no age under the new variant, that much has been acknowledged by our government, albeit, another late acknowledgement. If schools are unsafe to open then that goes for any educational establishment.

  17. How is this fair on any student? I have only been in collage for 1 week since the middle of November and am still expected to sit in an exam. It is causing so much stress on young people as we have simply not had the time properly to go through it. We are meant to be going in a national lockdown to stop the spread of COVID but I am able to sit in a exam hall with hundreds of people.

  18. Melanie caines

    I’m absolutely baffled by this decision we have 3 people in our household who are classed as high risk and under sheilding I have 2 daughters ge 18 nd 19 at 2 different colleges.
    My 18 year old has just been informed that her btec exam due on the 21st January will no longer go ahead and will be re scheduled at a later date.
    My 19 year old received a txt at midnight tonight from her college stating all btec exams this week and next will still be going ahead at college???
    Did I miss hear the new lockdown restrictions about staying at home and all college and schools etc to closeso why the heck do you think it’s safe for these students to go into college for an exam that other colleges have postponed??
    Its disgusting.. Do they really not care about our children

  19. I couldn’t believe it when my son said his exams this week will go ahead when Boris has locked the country down! Surely this in an oversight and will be rectified? You have terrified our youngsters from covid and left them dangling whether schools will open or not and they are expected to sit an important exam 2 days after? Absolutely disgusting!!

  20. I work as a exam officer and have very mixed feeling about the btec exams
    Yes as a college we have put in all the hard work and right government guidelines to help students and staff to have a smooth transition of exams
    Students and staff and exams officers have worked very hard.
    But on the other hand we are left with short numbers of invigilators and are trying to juggle around what staff we have to help we still have not got enough staff too comer these exams
    Then you have the low number of students who are not going to attend
    The government and Dfe have not thought this through and not asked the right questions to the right people
    If the Dfe want the btec exams to go ahead
    Why don’t the help with the shortage of staffing when it comes to invigilators.

  21. bella suri

    This is truly unacceptable… my daughter is due to sit btec exam in coming days. Prior to tier 4 restrictions, she was isolating as she had been exposed to covid positive person… since October the learning has been disruptive due to various teachers isolating etc… how is this even fair?
    She is studying Health and Social care… the pandemic has had a detrimental affect on their learning as placements (which are mandatory) have been difficult to find or cancelled (understandably) due to covid restrictions.
    Why were Btec students or colleges not even given a mention by the PM?
    Summer exams are cancelled yet these poor pupils who haven’t even had proper or consistent revision sessions with tutors… Will sit exams, feeling anxious due to lack of learning and current dangerous pandemic environment.
    Disgraceful!

  22. Ellie Laban

    It is the worst decision so far. I have my exam Wednesday but I need to go in for exam preparations Tuesday. The world is already a stressful place right now without this on top. It’s disgusting that A-level students get all the benefits and B-tec do not- getting their exams altered and being told what is in them. If Boris Johnson has our safety as his top priority he should cancell all exams, not just summer ones.

  23. Trudy Herholdt

    Why are BTEC students an afterthought???
    My daughter is due to write exams next week , but why must she now get on public transport to get to college when it is supposed to be shut .
    But if she did A-levels , then she would get treated differently …Angry is an understatement!!!!!!!!

  24. Bobby Axelrod

    An absolutely ridiculous decision taken by the Department for Education. Walk a mile in our shoes and then you will be able to understand the constant pressure, confusion and disappointment that Mr Gavin Williamson and his department is delivering right now. It’s ironic how the people responsible for our education do not have the common sense to understand that 135,000 students’ lives are being jeopardised because of their inefficiency and irrational thinking.

  25. This is an absolute joke and so unfair years 11 and 13 have lost out more than last year’s students. My daughter is due to sit her Business and H&S Care BTECs next week but she hasn’t been taught half the business stuff as her teacher has had to isolate so much due to her children being exposed to COVID – I think all exams should be cancelled – come on Government do something right for once! Don’t you think our children have had enough stress already?

  26. If the March lockdown last year was enough to cancel exams for the previous year 11 and 13, then it makes no sense to keep any exams going this time either. Not only were the previous year 10 and 12 (now 11 and 13) also a part of that lockdown- missing around 6 months of proper learning- but we now also have this new lockdown. We were hit in the middle of crucial learning and hit again now toward the end. They should be cancelled.

  27. Anonymous

    This is definitely not fair! All exams are cancelled for a reason so why not vocational exams too. Still students and staffs are going to be at risk of spreading or catching the virus especially with another dangerous variable going around when the whole point of the national lockdown is to protect ‘yourself’ and others. Some students will still have to take public transports etc. I’ve got to still go into college tomorrow and other days within the upcoming weeks to do my preparations including the BTEC exams that are still on, and i do not feel safe at all to do so. Im sure there is another way for grading such as predicted grades (method that was used last year). Not all students have had the exact same quantity of revision, teachings, learning in class due to self isolation and the amount of courseworks we’ve missed out on due to the previous lockdowns etc.

    Please reconsider and think about the safety of the students and staff who has to go in, considering that they have families at home who are also at risk.

  28. why Are exams cancelled in the summer when they have 5 more months to prepare and yet exams going ahead now when students missed out on 5 months learning last year meaning they haven’t even covered all the topics yet.

  29. What is going on. College has posted that exams will not take place. Some students will have to travel 90 miles plus round trip to take these exams. Wednesday 6 being the first. Explanation please. Additionally, is travelling across county lines now ok, despite being told to stay at home?

  30. Confused and worried

    I totally agree with the other people on here! I work at a college and the fact that the government are so worried about everyone else and haven’t even considered that BTEC’s should be cancelled is a disgrace. think about the students and the staff who are putting themselves at risk. We aren’t even on the priority list for the vaccinations, yet they want us to risk our lives, and those of our families. Shocking! Hopefully they will make a swift u-turn once they consider how unreasonable this is for all concerned

  31. I feel this is a very unfair way to handle things as Btec students are just as impacted as all other students, and have missed out on a large amount of content. I feel it is also irresponsible to send some students back especially as most of us have to commute, Personally i have to take 3 trains in order to get into my college, and do not feel safe doing so then bringing anything back into my home, and it being my fault if one of my family members die due to covid. I think it would be best to revisit this and change it as soon as possible, and maybe to push exams to a later date if cancellation is not within your breach. Not to mention we also had to complete coursework with no face-to-face support, and write assessments with not nearly enough preparation. i never comment on posts like this but i feel very strongly that this decision is totally unfair and very irresponsible.

  32. My child has vulnerable grandparents who reside with us, and we have been informed by the school that my child is expected to attend tomorrow’s BTEC exams in a hall where they do not social distance the children 2 meters apart, and nor are they expected to wear masks during their exams. This is an absolute disgrace, and despite all the hard work that my child has undertaken, I am now having to consider the implications of the risks involved, and of my child not attending their BTEC exams this January, as I consider this too risky. Before Xmas half-term there were students in every year group who caught Covid, along with some of their teachers, as there are insufficient safety measures and PPE in place for teachers and pupils. It is unfair to allow the BTEC exams to go ahead this week, when other exams will not.

  33. I feel this is a very unfair way to handle things as Btec students are just as impacted as all other students, and have missed out on a large amount of content. I feel it is also irresponsible to send some students back especially as most of us have to commute, Personally i have to take 3 trains in order to get into my college, and do not feel safe doing so then bringing anything back into my home, and it being my fault if one of my family members die due to covid. I think it would be best to revisit this and change it as soon as possible, and maybe to push exams to a later date if cancellation is not within your breach. Not to mention we also had to complete coursework with no face-to-face support, and write assessments with not nearly enough preparation. i never comment on posts like this but i feel very strongly that this decision is totally unfair and very irresponsible. If education is one of our biggest priorities why must we rush it, and do worse than our potential, during a pandemic with the amount of stress overwhelming family members and students, this stress is very unhealthy and i’m sure no one even with super powers would be able to sit one of our most important exams with confidence during this time, and even do remotely well. I’m sure i speak on behalf of most students around the Uk.

  34. Shirley Botham

    This is so wrong my granddaughter has her exams on the 11th of January this is so unfair on these young people to expect them to do this . How can it make sense to cancel the summer exams and not these with all this going on there needs to be a rethink by the government and pretty quick.

  35. I really cannot believe this is happening at a time of national crisis again. My wife has Covid and we are self-isolating at the moment, my son is going to miss his exams this week. will he get his predicted grade or have the government completely failed him and he will not get a place at university, I am so angry at the moment? please do a google search on uk gov petitions to allow teacher predicted grades for BTEC students, over 80,000 signatures so far in a few hours

  36. I really cannot believe this is happening at a time of national crisis. My wife has Covid and we are self-isolating at the moment, my son is going to miss his exams this week. will he get his predicted grade or have the government completely failed him and he will not get a place at university ? I am so angry at the moment? please do a google search on uk gov petitions to allow teacher predicted grades for BTEC students, over 80,000 signatures so far in a few hours

  37. Debbie Abdoullahi

    My daughter has exam TODAY!!!
    Really stressed over lack of support and COVID situation!!! Why are some having to take these exams and others are cancelled??? How is this fair??? Haven’t they been through enough this year without more stress?????
    They haven’t had the level of education that they should have had and consequently feel very unsure and unprepared!!!