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School students in Canterbury petition MP Rosie Duffield to cancel GCSE and A-level exams


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Two grammar school pupils are calling on Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield to publicly support a campaign to cancel all GCSE and A-levels examinations this year.

The pair, who attend the city's Simon Langton Grammar, have written a letter to Ms Duffield which they intend to hand-deliver to her office tomorrow (Saturday), but first they posted it on Instagram and appealed to other students in the Canterbury and Whitstable area to sign it.

Rosie Duffield, MP
Rosie Duffield, MP

Jack Newbury, 17, is currently studying in Year 13 for his A-levels.

He said: "Between 3pm on New Year's Eve and 3pm today, 406 people had signed.

"For so many young people to respond within 24 hours, especially over the holiday period, shows how passionate young people feel about this."

Jack and his friend Joshua Matheson, also in Year 13, say to make students take GCSEs and A-levels after such a disrupted year is unfair.

He said: "Students have already had five months of disrupted learning. Online learning just isn't the same.

"To proceed with exams is completely unfair and disadvantages those students who are already in the most disadvantaged position - those without a good internet connection or quiet space at home to work."

Year 13 student Jack Newbury
Year 13 student Jack Newbury

Jack said he was aware that some people would scoff at the campaign.

He said: "We are not tired or lazy students. Joshua and I are both applying for top grade universities and in a normal year we would be looking forward to the chance to take our A-levels.

"But the virus has meant that many students have fallen behind.

"If exams go ahead, this would have life-altering consequences for the students sitting them.

"The government is essentially pretending that a pandemic didn’t happen in the middle of our GCSE and A-Level courses."

Joshua Matheson
Joshua Matheson

The boys are also concerned about the mental health of young people.

Jack said: "We have faced unrelenting academic pressure as well as online learning, social isolation and fears about the virus. The anxiety students now face is now at an all-time high.

"To press forward with exams as normal is a complete abandonment of vulnerable and underprivileged students - the students who need government support the most.

"The results will tell us far more about the unequal impact of COVID-19 than about our individual academic ability. "

The boys' Instagram post (43792711)
The boys' Instagram post (43792711)

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