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Petition Reduce curriculum content for year 10 & 12 students who will sit exams in 2021.

A significant number of students will sit their final 2021 examinations. The outcome of which undoubtedly will be their passport, for many of their future life chances and successes. In order for this to be done fairly, it is imperative that the amount of content they are tested on is reduced.

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As an educator myself, I understand the huge benefits of face to face teaching and the positive impact this has on a child’s educational success. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing unprecedented situation, classroom based learning has not been possible. A significant amount of teaching and learning time has been lost (ongoing). This cannot effectively be compensated for by provided remote learning activities.By reducing the content, students will have the opportunity to sit their exams equitably.

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 12 October 2020

Watch the petition 'Reduce curriculum content for year 10 & 12 students who will sit exams in 2021.' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 30 July 2020

All students, including current Year 10s and 12s, will have experienced disruption to their education this year. Ofqual is consulting on measures to mitigate this through changes to next year’s exams.

Read the response in full

We recognise that Year 10 and 12 students due to take exams next year, and their parents, carers and teachers, are concerned about the disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The government is determined to do everything possible to ensure that no student is prevented from fulfilling their potential due to the pandemic.

We are planning on the basis that exams will go ahead in 2021 and have been working closely with Ofqual, the exam boards and groups representing teachers, schools, colleges and students to consider our approach to exams and other assessments next year. On 2 July, Ofqual published consultation proposals on a range of possible measures, with the overriding aim of ensuring that exams and assessments are as fair as possible. In particular, the consultation proposes a range of changes to exams and assessments next year to free up additional time for teaching, in light of the disruption experienced by teachers and students this year. This includes seeking views on a short delay to the exams timetable in 2021, and proposed adaptations in a number of subjects, for example, removing the requirement to record the spoken language assessment in GCSE English language, and allowing GCSE students to observe, rather than undertake, practical science work.

As with this year, the most important principle is that students due to sit exams and assessments in the next academic year should be enabled to progress successfully to the next stage of education or employment. Each of the elements of content that forms the foundation for GCSE, AS and A level qualifications is important, and therefore the government does not propose to change this content for 2021.

For GCSE history, ancient history and geography, the government has asked Ofqual to identify options for sampling less of the subject content for 2021 in a way which gives schools and colleges some choice over the content they teach, and helps teachers and students to cover that content in appropriate depth. This is because, unlike other subjects taken by large numbers of students, Ofqual was not able to identify any ways of freeing up teaching time without making changes to the way subject content is sampled. For GCSE history and ancient history, Ofqual is seeking views on proposals to introduce a choice of topics on which students would be required to answer questions in their exams, with one topic remaining mandatory. For GCSE geography, Ofqual is proposing that the content relating to fieldwork should not be assessed in 2021.

The government has confirmed that this approach should not be considered for GCSE English language, English literature, maths and the sciences, since the full content in these subjects is vital for progression to further study and students should have the opportunity, therefore, to cover the full syllabus. This approach should not be considered for AS/A levels either.

Ofqual’s consultation closes on 16 July. We recognise that students and teachers need to be reassured and informed about arrangements for exams and assessments next year, to help them to plan and prepare. Ofqual is aiming to announce its decisions by early August.

On 2 July, the government also published further guidance for schools and colleges that sets out what school and college leaders and their staff should consider in planning and delivering their curriculum next year, so that all students – particularly disadvantaged students – are given the support to make up for their lost time in education due to the pandemic. The government is clear that the school curriculum should remain broad and ambitious, and all students should continue to be taught a wide range of subjects, maintaining their choices for further study and employment.

Department for Education

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/320772)

Other parliamentary business

Education Committee responds to request to consider petition on curriculum content for 2021 exams

The Education Committee, a group of MPs who are currently investigating the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services, has responded to the Petitions Committee's request that the concerns expressed and request made by this petition are considered as part of its inquiry.

Catherine McKinnell MP, the Chair of the Petitions Committee, wrote to the Education Committee last month, to ask that it consider the concerns expressed and request made by this petition as part of its inquiry.

The Chair of the Committee, Robert Halfon MP, has said that the Committee will raise the issue of reduced curriculum content for these year groups at its next session with a relevant Minister from the Department for Education.

You can read the full letter from the Chair of the Education Committee here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/1745/documents/17486/default/

You can find out more about the Education Committee's inquiry here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/202/the-impact-of-covid19-on-education-and-childrens-services/

The Education Committee is a cross-party group of MPs and is independent of the Government. The Committee looks at and questions the Government about matters relating education.

You can find out more about the Education Committee on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/203/education-committee/

You can follow the Education Committee on Twitter: @CommonsEd

The Education Committee is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Petitions Committee asks Education Committee to consider petition

A group of MPs called the Education Committee is investigating the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services, and has been questioning representatives from the education sector as part of an ongoing inquiry.

Catherine McKinnell MP, the Chair of the Petitions Committee, has written to Robert Halfon MP, the Chair of the Education Committee, to ask that the concerns expressed and request made by this petition are considered as part of its inquiry.

You can read the letter from the Chair of the Petitions Committee on our website here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/1504/documents/13755/default/

You can find out more about the Education Committee's inquiry here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/202/the-impact-of-covid19-on-education-and-childrens-services/

The Education Committee is a cross-party group of MPs and is independent of the Government. The Committee looks at and questions the Government about matters relating education.

You can find out more about the Education Committee on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/203/education-committee/

You can follow the Education Committee on Twitter: @CommonsEd

The Education Committee is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Original Government response

We are working with Ofqual and the exam boards to put in place an approach to exams in 2021, given the disruption to students’ education this year (including those currently in Years 10 and 12).

We recognise that Year 10 and 12 students due to take exams next year, and their parents, carers and teachers, are concerned about the disruption to teaching and learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The government is committed to doing all it can to minimise the effects of this. We will be providing further guidance and support for schools that sets out what school leaders and their staff should consider in planning and delivering their school curriculum next year, so that all pupils – particularly disadvantaged pupils – are given the support to make up for their lost time in education due to the pandemic. We have already committed over £100 million to support children in England to access remote education, including providing laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers to vulnerable and disadvantaged children. We are also working with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to explore how schools can best help their pupils address learning loss; this will include the EEF’s extensive, free research into the most effective ways to accelerate pupil progress.

Our aim is that students due to sit exams next year should be enabled to progress successfully to the next stage of their lives, whether in education or employment. We expect exams to go ahead in 2021 and DfE has been working very closely with the qualifications regulator, Ofqual, the exam boards and groups representing teachers, schools, colleges and students to carefully consider arrangements for next year. Ofqual is planning to publish, before the end of term, proposals for consultation on a range of possible measures, with the overriding aim of ensuring that exams and other assessments are as fair as possible, taking into account any public health requirements and the wellbeing of students. Ofqual will publish its decisions as soon as possible after its consultation concludes, to allow time for schools, colleges and students to plan and prepare for next year.

We understand that this is a critical time for students who are due to take exams next year. Since 15 June, secondary schools and colleges have been able to provide some face-to-face support for Years 10 and 12, and students aged 16 to 19 in the first year of a two-year study programme. This extra support is in addition to their remote education, which will continue to be the main method of education for them this term, as only a quarter of this cohort can attend at any one time, to limit the risk of virus transmission. We have published guidance for secondary schools and further education providers, and ensured they have the flexibility to decide how they want to use face-to-face support in the best interests of their students.

Department for Education

This response was given on 22 June 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

Petitions Committee schedules debate on petitions relating to exams during Covid-19

Next week, MPs from across the House of Commons will debate this petition alongside one other relating to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on GCSE and A-level exams.

Watch the debate from 4.30pm on Monday 12 October at https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Commons or on YouTube at https://youtu.be/tBZ6oVWzU2o.

The debate will be led by Petitions Committee member Tonia Antoniazzi MP, and a Minister from the Department for Education will respond on behalf of the Government.

The debate will start at 4.30pm and will last up to 90 minutes. It will take place in Westminster Hall – the House of Commons second Chamber.

##What are petitions debates?

Petitions debates are ‘general’ debates which allow MPs from all parties to discuss the important issues raised by one or more petitions, and put their concerns to Government Ministers.

##Stay up-to-date

Follow the Committee on Twitter for real-time updates on its work: https://www.twitter.com/hocpetitions.
Join in the discussion using hashtag #ExamsCovidDebate

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