Published: 16:40, 25 February 2021
| Updated: 16:42, 25 February 2021
Unions have played down fears of grade inflation at schools as the government confirmed that GCSEs and A-levels will be scrapped.
The concerns were raised after the government said there would not be universal moderation of schools to assess how they were grading pupils.
Warren Brookes, of the East Kent branch of the National Education Union (NEU), said there was no alternative given the situation caused by the pandemic.
“We have had lost learning through lack of access to technology and we believe that it would not be fair - teacher assessment is the only way forward because they know their children best.”
“There was a lot of this discussion on grade inflation last year. Some schools were cautious because they didn’t want to be accused of that.
"If all of a sudden your pupils were doing amazingly well, that is only going to bring greater scrutiny and you are setting yourself to fail later on. It doesn’t pay to do that.”
On the idea of summer catch-up classes over summer, he said they could be counter-productive.
"Will they be wanting and willing to come in over the school holidays when their peers aren’t? I don’t think they will.”
“Forcing children back who are tired and extend the school year - will they engage?
"For pupils who are considered as being behind and in the last year-and-a-half have not engaged in what has been put on, will they be wanting and willing to come in over the school holidays when their peers aren’t? I don’t think they will.”
He also queried who would deliver the summer lessons, saying teachers could not be forced to participate.
Meanwhile, the head teacher of one of Kent’s leading grammar schools says his pupils are as likely to struggle with the impact of the coronavirus as any other school.
Edward Wesson, head of the Skinners School in Tonbridge, said that the impact of prolonged absences from the classroom was not confined to children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
"It is easier for brighter children to keep up on their own.”
However, he said that pupils at his school were well prepared to cope and were likely to benefit from a better support network at home.
“I am absolutely sure there will be an attainment gap because one result of Covid is that some students will cope with it and there will be students who will be well supported by their families; some will thrive and others won't.
“Nationally and in Kent some will fall down a line which is related to disadvantage. We are lucky, we have high-achieving students who are more likely to stay in touch and look after themselves in an uncertain context.
“It does depend on what is going on at home and the ability to sit down, to be motivated and encouraged to do so - and that has to come from parents.
“I can't deny that grammar school students are probably in a luckier position than those struggling at a non-selective school. It is easier for brighter children to keep up on their own.”
The government confirmed today that A-level exams and GCSEs are to be scrapped this year and replaced with teacher assessment combined with mock exams, course work and essays.
Announcing the decision, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said pupils would be assessed on the basis of coursework, essays and mock exams.