Teaching, learning and assessment FAQs

We are reviewing all FAQs on a regular basis – adding new questions as they arise, updating answers to existing questions as information changes, and removing obsolete questions. 

If you have a question which is not covered here, and you are an ASCL Member, please email coronavirus@ascl.org.uk, and we will try to find an answer and share it here. 

These FAQs are provided for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal or professional advice. They represent ASCL’s views, but you rely on them at your own risk. For specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances, please contact your employer’s HR service or legal advisers.

Following the announcement by the Secretary of State on 6 January that school and college leaders can decide what is best for their students in terms of going ahead with exams and VTQ assessments in January, the DfE has provided the following statement and information for ASCL:
 
Exams 
VTQs and BTECs  

  • We understand these are difficult times but students have worked hard and prepared for theses exams and assessments so it is right that schools and colleges are given an opportunity to run them, if they judge that is the right decision. 
  • These qualifications are very different to GCSEs and A levels. For some students, they also need to complete a practical assessment to enter into the workplace and it is right that they should have the opportunity to do so, so they are not prevented from progressing onto the next stage of their lives. 
  • No student will be disadvantaged if they can’t take their exam or assessment or decide they don’t want to.  We will consult on how to ensures students get a fair grade working closely with Ofqual and key stakeholders like the AoC. 
  • We are confident that VTQ exams can safely go ahead, as demonstrated by the November 2020 exam series. Schools and colleges have already implemented extensive protective measures to make them as safe as possible and we will continue to support them to deliver these where required in the safest way. 

January exams
  • Schools and colleges are best placed to know whether they are in a position to deliver the January exams, and to know which exams to offer for their students if they choose to do so. 
  • If a student is unable to take their assessment this January, they may be able to take the assessment at a later date. In the event that is not possible we will put in place arrangements to ensure they are not disadvantaged. 
  • We will continue to work with Ofqual to ensure that students not able to take the January assessments are treated fairly in comparison with their peers taking similar assessments at other times. 
  • Students will not be penalised for non-attendance at exams or assessments. We will continue to work with Ofqual to ensure that students not able to take the January assessments are treated fairly in comparison with their peers taking similar assessments at other times. 
 
February and March exams/assessments 
  • We want to ensure that students who have worked hard to prepare for assessments and exams have the opportunity to take them, if their school/college decides to go ahead. We will continue to work with Ofqual, awarding organisations and other stakeholders to discuss the next steps and provide more detail on the way forward for the February and March exams and assessments. 

On 7 January, Ofqual and some awarding bodies issued statements confirming that there would be opportunities to take the same exams later in the year and if this was not possible, then students would be assessed and given a result on what they had achieved so far. Pearson issued a statement on the same day stating that centres should not withdraw exam entries until such time as it had been established what could happen with each student entered for the exams or assessments.
 

The DfE guidance for full opening: schools sets out the following guidance for school-based equipment and resources: “Classroom based resources, such as books and games, can be used and shared within the bubble; these should be cleaned regularly, along with all frequently touched surfaces. Resources that are shared between classes or bubbles, such as sports, art and science equipment should be cleaned frequently and meticulously and always between bubbles, or rotated to allow them to be left unused and out of reach for a period of 48 hours (72 hours for plastics) between use by different bubbles.”

Whilst there no specific guidance on marking, here are some suggestions that you could consider within your own context:

  • When planning your process for marking, consider any guidelines set out within your school or trust risk assessment. As far as reasonably possible teachers may be better not taking work home to mark, but again refer to and follow the guidelines set out by your employer. 
  • Consider whether electronic submission of work is possible. Pupils could do their work to be marked on a single sheet of paper which they themselves stick in their books once marked.
  • When considering or needing to use paper books, documents, booklets, folders, and textbooks, consider following Covid-19 guidelines for other related situations, such as those set out in bookshops. 
  • Consider having a crate or tray labelled with the day/date, for pupils to deposit work in, which they then leave for the appropriate number of hours. 
  • The CILIP (Library and information association) guidance for textbooks is 72 hours’ quarantine for plastic covers, and 24 hours’ quarantine for cardboard and paper-backed books (see further details below). You may wish to consider scanning and projecting pages and/or photocopying extracts (although bear copyright in mind).
Guidance on quarantine periods for library materials
Please note guidance from the COVID-19 Guidance Cell of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, as advised to CILIP and DCMS:
  • The risk from books covered in a plastic cover handled by someone who is a possible COVID-19 case is negligible after 72 hours.
  • The risk from books with a cardboard/paper cover is negligible after 24 hours.
We note that each individual library and information service has developed their own policies and protocols for safe book handling, including leaving books in ‘quarantine’ for 72 hours before handling.
 

The government has published new guidance for higher education providers on the support package available for universities and students. This is of direct relevance to members working in colleges, and will also be of interest to school-based members with Year 13 students. 

Key points include: 

  • There will be temporary and limited student number controls for the academic year 2020 to 2021, to ensure a fair, structured distribution of students across providers.
  • An additional 10,000 places will be made available to providers, on top of the controls, including. 5,000 for students studying nursing or allied health courses.
  • The Office for Students will consult on a new temporary condition of registration requiring English higher education providers to refrain from conduct which could have a material negative effect on the interests of students or the stability or integrity of the sector.
  • There will be an enhanced clearing process this year. Students will be able to access better and more personalised information, advice and guidance, and a new and easier-to-use means to change course/provider if, having reflected further and taking into account their awarded grades, they decide to change their firm choice. 
  • The Office for Students has published guidance for providers on the use of existing student premium funding to support students facing hardship.

Policy changes made 15 January 2021 to the EYFS disapplications guidance, in light of latest COVID-19 developments. 

Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFS) and EYFS Reforms/pilot schools 
 
In the academic year 2020/21, it will not be mandatory to complete the EYFS Profile assessment in 2021 but instead schools to make ‘best endeavours’ to undertake it. 

Schools who decide they are able to complete the EYFSP this year and provide this information to parents and year 1 teachers will not be subject to statutory external moderation. 

There will be no requirement to submit data to the local authority or to confirm whether they have completed the EYFSP to the Department for Education.

This change applies to schools who are early adopters of the Early Years Foundation Stage reforms, as well as schools who are following the current statutory framework.

EYFS: coronavirus disapplications
Statutory guidance updated 9 December 2020
Summary of changes:

  • provide a link to Ofsted’s operational notes that set out further detail on how providers will be inspected from January 2021
  • provide further clarity on the definition of ‘reasonable endeavours’ to be clear that it is not reasonable for providers to do nothing to meet the requirements
  • move the statement that section 7.2 does not apply to childminders to the top of the section to give this greater prominence
Paediatric First Aid requalification training
“If Paediatric First Aid certificate requalification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, or by complying with related government advice, the validity of current certificates can be extended to 31 March 2021 at the latest. This applies to certificates expiring on or after 1 October 2020.”

See also EYFS statutory framework here.

 

Primary assessment
Updated 7 January 2021 (p.55)

Statutory Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 tests and teacher assessments planned for summer 2021, including the key stage 2 tests in reading and mathematics, are cancelled in academic year 2020/21. We remain determined to ensure that every young person, no matter their age or background, is provided with the education and opportunities they deserve, despite the challenges faced by schools. Schools are “strongly encouraged to continue to use assessment during the summer term using past test papers if they wish”. These arrangements apply for summer 2021 only. To confirm, this also includes the removal of the Phonics Screening Check in summer 2021.


EYFS Reforms Early adopter schools: EYFS framework
In the academic year 2020/21, it will not be mandatory to complete the EYFS Profile assessment in 2021 but instead schools to make ‘best endeavours’ to undertake it. 

Schools who decide they are able to complete the EYFSP this year and provide this information to parents and Year 1 teachers will not be subject to statutory external moderation. 

There will be no requirement to submit data to the local authority or to confirm whether they have completed the EYFSP to the DfE.

This change applies to schools who are early adopters of the EYFS reforms, as well as schools who are following the current statutory framework.

Engagement model
Update for the 2020/21 academic year

The statutory teacher assessments due to take place in summer 2021, including the transition year for the engagement model and the final year of P scales 1 to 4, have been cancelled. STA expect the engagement model to become statutory from September 2021, replacing P scales 1 to 4. Schools can use the engagement model in their own assessments in summer 2021 if they wish. 

Engagement model training is being delivered online until March 2021 and STA is encouraging all schools to take up training opportunities where they have not already done so. To find the contact details for your local training lead please visit Pennine Teaching School Alliance

STA will provide further details relating to the engagement model in 2021/22 in due course.
 

The grades assigned to pupils through the CAG process will not be included in performance tables. Nor should they be used in any other form of accountability, such as discussions around performance management.

Pupils entered for GCSEs in Year 10 in 2020 who have received a CAG will not have their grades included in any performance tables or publications.
 

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