Home educated candidates doubly disadvantaged by cancelled exams

By way of yet another example of the wilful blindness of policy-makers to home education as an equally valid alternative to schooling, The Times reports on the failure of Ofqual and the UK government to consider home educated and other independent candidates during the Covid crisis.

Homeschoolers <sic> to be left without grades [paywall]

Home-educated children will be left without qualifications this week because only schools can allocate A levels and GCSEs, academics have warned.

Home-educated children sit exams as independent candidates, and have been left without a suitable substitute as exam boards rely on schools to award results this year, the Centre for Social Mobility at Exeter University said,

Teenagers can sit “back up” A-level and GCSE exams in the autumn, but this could mean that candidates have to take a year out before going to university, by the time they get their results.

As we predicted in April, when Ofqual issued guidance for ‘locked-down’ private candidates,

It looks like yet another postcode lottery for the home educating community.

We are aware of a few home educated candidates whose parents managed to arrange exams from home with online invigilation, but most have been badly let down due to their independent candidate status. 

Home educated young people in Scotland who opted for (English system) GCSE and A-Level courses have been left similarly high and dry. It is a preferred route for many as Scottish qualifications can be more difficult to access unless they are enrolled at an institution that is able to validate course work to the SQA. 

However, since the SQA results threw up vast anomalies in the grades awarded last week, there has been a public outcry, with a large number of students being unexpectedly and significantly downgraded from prelim results and losing out on university places. Prelims and estimates from teachers appear to have been trumped by schools’ previous performance and pupils’ postcodes, leading to accusations of class-based bias,. 

As schools in Scotland get ready to re-open this week, the row show no signs of abating, and more than 40,000 have signed a petition to ‘make the SQA re-evaluate results which isn’t based on a classist marking scheme’.

Meanwhile, education secretary John Swinney is facing a no-confidence motion in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Swinney is indeed beleaguered. Our recent forum survey found only 8% of the parents who joined us during lockdown are planning to return their children to school, preferring to home educate full-time or negotiate a flexischooling arrangement. He did, of course, promise just six weeks ago that parents would not be ‘punished’ for failing to send their children back to school

Adding to the cabinet secretary’s woes, advocate Jon Kiddie has published a detailed and damning critique of the SQA’s handling of the exam crisis: Umbrellas & Parachutes.

Breaking: John Swinney set to announce rethink as fury over exams grows

It is understood that the threat of the Scottish Greens backing a potential no confidence motion from Scottish Labour, which had already been backed by the Scottish Conservatives, led to the rethink.

Our popcorn supplies have been replenished in anticipation, but somehow we doubt home educated candidates will rate a mention, let alone figure in any of the promised ‘adjustments’.

 

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