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Majority of teachers say exam guidance will not mitigate impact on most disadvantaged

*Over 60% of Chartered College of Teaching members disagree that it will mitigate negative impact 
*Snap member poll highlights concerns that guidance not targeting disadvantaged students
*Members also raise concerns that it would further widen the attainment gap and arrived too late

A large majority of teachers do not believe that the early publication of exam topics will mitigate the impact on the most disadvantaged students. The Chartered College of Teaching snap poll found that over 60% disagreed that it would have the desired effect on those most negatively affected by school closures. 

Chartered College members shared their insights, including concerns that the guidance would not provide targeted support to disadvantaged students and exacerbate the achievement gap. Members commented that while the advice does seek to help those impacted by closures, it could further benefit schools and students with access to more resources.

“I think the primary function of any measures such as advance info or greater optionality will do little in either direction. Any measures will apply to all students across the country, and if anything is likely to be more clearly emphasised in schools with more resources in terms of time, expense, staffing and contact time.”

“This will help the ones who have missed lots of content over the last few years, but it will also help those who have not missed much. This means that all pupils will do better and not help the disadvantaged much.”

“I think they help the students with access to tutors, as well as those that have strong support and self-regulation. Those who are most disadvantaged do not often have the metacognitive skills to work with this.”

“The most advantaged will have resources and facilities to make huge gains by having advanced knowledge whereas the least advantaged, still struggling to catch up, will end up further behind.”

Members also highlighted a lack of additional support to mitigate the impact of student and staff absences.  

“As a teacher and as a parent, little regard has been given to the amount of learning these children have missed. Even this year, my children have had numerous absences because of Covid or their teachers have been absent.”

“Centres with very high levels of staff absence over the last two years and students who have had to isolate several times should have special consideration.”

The timing of guidance was raised, with members having already put in place plans and a potentially negative impact on student motivation. 

“It’s too late; we’ve already made decisions about the timing of mocks and the timing and proportion of teaching time allocated to different sections of exams. This needed to be much earlier.”

“There is a real balance in terms of what as teachers do we teach, when do we stop for revision, and when do we tell the student what comes up as they will disengage in lessons they see as not relevant.”

“Trying my best to keep them positive and to focus their revision, but it’s not an easy path to navigate.”

Just under a quarter of teachers thought the publication of the guidance would have a positive impact. Members caveated this support with a concern that it still may not be enough.

“I think that the exams are probably the way to go, but we need an explanation about how this will make it more equitable.”

“This is probably the best plan; however, it’s difficult to see how any plan can mitigate against the fact the less advantaged students were disproportionately affected by learning loss.”

“Whilst the early publication of some exam topics will help a little, there are still two major problems. Firstly, these measures were announced late into the school year, essentially leaving only six weeks for A-level students to benefit from these adjustments. Secondly, every student across the country is accessing these measures equally, so their effect may be minimal. The measures may promote equality but not equity.”

“The positive impact for disadvantaged learners will only happen if schools target these students for additional support.”

Dame Alison Peacock, CEO of the Chartered College of Teaching, said:

“The pandemic has significantly impacted the education sector bringing additional complications to teaching and learning. Throughout, the profession has shown incredible flexibility. Teachers and leaders continue to do everything possible to deliver the best possible education. 

COVID-19 will not disappear overnight, and schools are still being affected. We must be doing everything in our power to set young people up for success. As part of that, we want to see that those in education are supported as much as possible. This includes being provided with the resources to direct support to those students most adversely affected. We will be working closely with Ofqual to ensure members have access to the information they need to make the best decisions for their students and have the opportunity to share their experiences to shape plans.”