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Frustration for students as exams are cancelled

With the start of the third lockdown this week, summer school exams have again been thrown into disarray.

Michael Gove confirmed on Tuesday that A-levels, GCSEs and BTEC exams would not go ahead this year and said that a different way of measuring pupils’ attainment will instead be found.

One family that have been particularly affected by this are the Lewis family, who live in Stretton-on-Fosse. Siblings Tom, 18, and Lily, 16, were due to sit A-levels and GCSEs in the summer, but now exams are cancelled the teenagers were uncertain how their studies would now continue.

Lily, who attends Chipping Campden School, said she was finding the situation “very stressful”. She said: “We don’t know what’s going on. I was due to have mocks next week, now they’re not happening I’m not sure what they will be replaced by if anything.”

King Edward VI School sixth-form student Tom said: “Our mocks are cancelled and we’re just in limbo.”

Praising how KES has handled schooling throughout the pandemic, Tom said the school had been on the ball with online learning and wellbeing support, but that lack of forward-planning by the government had made the situation worse.

He said: “Even after last year’s exams were cancelled there were no contingency plans. Six months ago, education secretary Gavin Williamson simply said 2021 exams will go ahead. Now look where we are - nothing seems to have been learned from last year’s situation.”

Tom hopes to study politics at university in the autumn, and he has some advice for the government: “We could have had some sort of government mandate over the last nine months with regular controlled exams across all schools. So that if and when we couldn’t sit the usual final exams we could have been judged fairly on those marks. It seems a missed opportunity.”

Both Tom and Lily say they would much rather be sitting exams than relying on the unpredictability of teacher assessments. “My grades have fluctuated throughout the year so much that I’ve no idea what mark I could end up with,” said Lily. “At least with exams you feel more in charge of the outcome.”

Social isolation continues to be a source of frustration for the brother and sister too. Tom said: “I feel like I’ve lost a year of my social life. In terms of protecting the vulnerable that’s a reasonable sacrifice, but it is frustrating and does make you anxious.”

On an up note, Tom said he and Lily had been helping each other a “surprising amount”.

“It’s brought us closer together,” added Lily.

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