This week the Prime Minister reiterated the importance of children being in school and restated his commitment to ensuring learning continues in classrooms across the country.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, 23 November, the Prime Minister said that keeping children in schools continues to be “at the heart of what we do.” Paediatrician Dr Andrew Pollard added the Royal College of Paediatrics Group and Child Health remains of the view that schools are the best places for our young people to be.
Despite a year of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 99% of schools have been open since the start of the Autumn term.
Closing schools early risks putting many pupils at a disadvantage, none more so than GCSE and A level students preparing to take exams.
It’s widely acknowledged that exams are the best and fairest way to measure pupils’ progress. This is supported by educational professionals, with Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman telling the Education Select Committee that she had not seen anything that suggests cancelling exams would be the sensible route this year.
Speaking in the House of Commons earlier this week, the Education Secretary told MPs a package of extra measures will ensure 2021 exams are fair for all students and reflect the impact of the disruption caused by Covid-19.
Exams are the best and fairest way to measure pupils’ progress. This is supported by educational professionals, with Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman telling the Education Select Committee that she had not seen anything that suggests cancelling exams would be the sensible default for this year.
It is important to acknowledge the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has had on education. That’s why we have already announced a plan to push back exam dates by three weeks. This will allow students to catch-up on lost learning and support teachers in the classroom. We have also announced a billion-pound Covid Catch Up Plan to deliver tutoring to pupils as they approach their exams. Evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation shows one to one tuition is effective, on average accelerating learning by approximately 3-5 additional months’ progress.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
As the Prime Minister has said, keeping schools open is a national priority. The evidence clearly shows that keeping our classrooms fully open right through to the end of term is in the best interests of children, for both their education and their wellbeing.
Keeping schools open is also vital for those young people preparing for exams in the summer, and today marks the final day of our autumn exam series. I want to congratulate the tens of thousands of students who have sat papers over the past two months, including during this period of national restrictions, and thank all of the staff who have made these exams possible.