Following our last post, there have been decisions made on public examinations in England and Scotland.
In England, public exams will be delayed from mid-May to the start of June and will finish in July. There may well be reduced course content.
In Scotland, public exams will go forward but the National 5’s (the equivalent of the English GCSE to some extent) has been scrapped to be replaced by moderated teacher assessment.
As we approach the mid-term holidays, schools are nearly all staying fully open, though a handful are still staggering attendance.
This pattern seems to be reflected across Europe – with a strong political will to keep schools open (also popular with most parents who have had to endure home-schooling their kids).
School visits in the UK
Since the recent increase in recorded Covid cases, schools are being extremely cautious with school visits.
Some have a blanket ban, but in most cases have set up virtual tours or open events as an alternative.
Other schools are continuing to offer tours, but for much smaller groups, or after school hours.
As the Autumn is the main application period for schools, there are some good opportunities for parents to join larger and more thorough “virtual” open events so worth flagging that with any families planning a move in 2021.
A number of parents planning relocations have made the assumption that there will be more places in schools than normal.
At present it does seem the opposite is true – with the pandemic leading families to stick in a school rather than twist until future events are clearer.
It probably does make sense to look to manage the expectations of families planning to move in both the short and medium term.
There is growing pressure for GCSE and A Level exams to be pushed back into June and July to allow students greater “catch up” time after school closures in the Spring and Summer. It is still possible that they may be cancelled again.
The government has announced what they have called a “lifetime skills guarantee” that would offer a fully funded college course to all people over 18 in England without an A-level or equivalent qualification.
Only people aged under 23 qualify for a fully-funded qualification at this level at the present time.
The announcement comes against the back-drop of impending job losses from the pandemic.
The commitment will be paid for under an already-announced £2.5bn boost to England’s National Skills Fund coming into effect next April.
A list of eligible subject / courses will be released next month – those valued by employers.
There is anecdotal evidence from our network that parents who are appealing in-year applications made over the summer may be facing long delays in having those appeals heard in many areas of the country.
Usually an appeal would be heard within 4-6 weeks of its submission but some councils have unofficially advised parents that an appeal submitted in September may not be heard until November or December.
The primary reason for the delays has been the impact of CV-19 on the school admissions process, with many admissions team closed to in-year applications for much of the summer term.
There is also an issue in convening the appeals panels as face-to-face meetings are still not taking place in many areas.