20th Jan, 2021

Coventry University's education expert on remote learning, lockdown assessments and the best way forward

COVENTRY University’s National School of Education and Teaching executive director has called on the Government to start listening to headteachers to help it formulate its plans for schools and colleges during lockdown.

In an interview with the Observer Geraint Jones said heads and teachers were experts in their fields and were best-placed to know what approaches schools and colleges should be taking during what looks to be another difficult academic year.

“The Government needs to look at the way students are assessed so it is the same across the country and it is not all dependent on terminal exams.

“I think many schools will have done that anyway but the Government needs to ensure students are assessed in smaller learning blocks and it is done fairly – an ‘A’ in Coventry needs to be the same as an ‘A’ in Brighton.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed at the start of the week that exams would not be able to go ahead this year and Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson confirmed teacher assessments would be used to determine students’ grades.

Mr Jones, an ex-headteacher and Ofsted inspector and a former Chief Education Officer of one of the world’s largest school groups, said, although no detailed information had been released yet about how this year’s A level, AS level and GCSEs would be graded, he expected it to be similar to last year’s teacher assessments.

He called on the Government to release more details about how it will be done this year and added: “In their daily lives, teachers carry out observations, testing and classwork so it is the best way.

“I have never seen a teacher who does not want the best for their students or who is not fair to all students.

“The advantage they have this year is that they have more time to get it right whereas that was not the case last year with the switch from the computer-generated algorithm to assessments.”

Mr Jones also added it had to be accepted that maybe some students would not have as much knowledge and gaps in learning as previous years because, especially this year, year 11s and 13s would have been through two years of lockdowns.

“Schools and universities need to appreciate this and work together to think about what preparation can be made to help students catch-up.”

He said it would be dangerous to compare this year’s to previous ones because of the pandemic and the situation education found itself in.

And he had a message for students themselves: “It is important in the absence of terminal exams students do not switch off.

“If anything, it is more important than ever that they keep working hard, keep doing their homework and ensure they get it in on time.

“They need to continue to listen to what their teachers are telling them, take feedback on board and not worry if they have not learned as much as they had hoped to – we have to remember this is not an ideal situation.

“Students also need to remember that what they do now will determine where they finish.”

 

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