Special consideration in complex times

Special consideration in complex times

With exam season starting soon, Alex Galvin, Senior Education Lead, provides practical suggestions to tackle potential uncertainty.

The key challenge for those planning national examinations has always been ‘how can we ensure that all pupils have an equal chance of success?’ For the coming exam season, that question obviously carries additional complexity. The experiences of young people, their teachers and the communities they live in have been so varied and unpredictable, we already know that students will be entering the exam series from very different starting points.

As things stand, it seems that special consideration for this summer’s examinations will work in the same way as a usual year. Centres will be able to request special consideration for any student whose circumstances are likely to adversely affect their performance or whose situation precludes them from sitting the exam. However, this isn’t a usual year. We know that exam boards have been asked to consider special consideration for whole classes – perhaps those whose regular teacher has been absent for large parts of the course or who have had significant rates of absence among pupils at key points. If this is the case for you, it is probably worth ensuring that you have data to hand to evidence students’ achievement and demonstrate how teaching and/or learning has been impacted.

A question also remains about how schools will be expected to manage students who test positive for Covid at the time they are due to be sitting examinations. Under current national guidance, they would be able to sit the exam as usual provided they felt well enough to do so. However, schools will obviously want to avoid a wave of infections among students and staff, particularly during exam season. It may be useful to give some thought to how you would want to manage this situation if it occurred.

Further guidance on this issue may come from awarding bodies in coming weeks. If it does, we will keep you updated through our member listserves and our policy updates. In the meantime, the work that you have already done in ensuring that you have data to evidence your students’ performance will be very helpful in managing special consideration processes, whatever form they take.

Contact us if you would like any additional support and to ensure you are making the most of your membership benefits such as listserves and policy webinars.

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