Keighley College prioritises student safety by postponing January exams

Keighley College has taken the decision to postpone exams due to take place in January to ensure student, apprentice and staff safety during the pandemic.

The latest government update outlines that GCSE, A level and AS summer exams have been cancelled and will be replaced with teacher assessed grades. However, the decision to run BTEC and other vocational qualification assessments is down to individual institutions. 

Steve Kelly, Principal at Keighley College, said: “Cancelling January exams was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but we felt student and staff safety needed to be our top priority. The message from the government was to ‘stay at home’ to defeat the virus, therefore asking students to attend college and sit exams seemed untenable. 

“To go ahead with the exam series now would be unfair on our hard working students. The stress of the pandemic will undoubtedly affect their performance and probably has affected their preparation, potentially leading to unfair results.

“Although many are disappointed with the move back to remote learning, teachers and students are already well equipped to adapt to distance learning following the first lockdown. We’ve worked hard to enable learners to maintain their communities during these hard times, which makes a real difference to their mental wellbeing. 

“We’re proud to be at the heart of the community and as we move through this challenging time, we want to be able to support the best we can while maintaining the safety of our students, apprentices and staff.”

BTEC and other vocational assessments will be rescheduled later this year, giving students time to plan and prepare.

Foundation Studies student, Bethan Jones, is committed to developing her learning during lockdown. She added: “The support from college throughout remote learning has been brilliant. We all speak to each other daily on Google Hangouts, where we can talk through work and help each other. 

“Our tutors are constantly checking in to see how we’re doing, which really helps with any feelings of isolation. We are set individual tasks which allow us to become more independent while improving valuable skills.”

Keighley College plans to have a mass testing system in place for when students return to college after February half term.

Calculated grades for this year’s summer exams

The government has made the decision to cancel the 2020 summer examinations. We realise there will be a lot of unanswered questions as the guidance is quite limited at this stage, but we wanted to share with you what we do know or expect to happen.

This information is applicable to the summer exams for GCSEs, A levels, BTEC and some other equivalent vocational qualifications. Other qualifications’ awarding bodies may require students to sit an exam and/or assessment at a later date.​

Students will be awarded grades which fairly reflect the work they have put in. Please rest assured we will be doing everything we can to ensure that each student is awarded the grade they deserve in recognition of their hard work. It is clear from the announcement that every effort will be made to make sure that students will not be disadvantaged and will be able to progress as appropriate, to the next stage of their lives. 

Teachers will be asked to submit judgements about the grades students would have received if exams had gone ahead. This judgement will be informed by a range of evidence and data which could include; 

This will then be combined with prior attainment data and expected pathways to produce a calculated grade that is fair and expected. We will work closely with the exam boards to ensure that every one of our students achieves the right outcomes based on what is fair and reflective of their performance. This is important for adult learners or students who have only been studying their subject in this academic year.

For those who have exams as part of a vocational or technical qualification, some units will have already been assessed and completed. These will be important evidence in informing the final awarded grade. We will follow the guidance and work with the awarding organisations to ensure there is a flexible and pragmatic approach, so these students are not disadvantaged in any way. 

It is intended that students will be awarded their calculated grades before the end of July. Be reassured that grading and certification will look the same as in previous years.

Where students feel that their calculated grade does not reflect their performance, the option to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity will be available, or in the summer of 2021.

Students should continue with their remote learning as planned and supported by their teachers. This will make a difference in readiness for their next steps, and in completion of any assessments that may be used to inform the calculated grades. You should contact your tutor/s if you need any support.

We would like to offer assurance that although our ‘in college’ normal way of working has been interrupted, you can still apply for your next steps at college. We are doing different types of (safe) interviews and you will hear from us in due course. 

We look forward to celebrating the achievements of all our current students and meeting those who are yet to join us, as we plan for the new academic year ahead.