Hampshire councillor says going back to GCSE exams is a 'step back'

RIGID school examination could one day become a thing of the past, according to an independent councillor.

Saturday, 15th January 2022, 2:56 pm
Updated Sunday, 16th January 2022, 2:11 pm

Hampshire County Council discussed a new report that explained how school attainment has dropped during the Covid-19 pandemic, with home learning generally being detrimental to child development.

Specifically, it has been noted that Year 2 and Year 6 pupils have gone without standard assessment tests (SATs) and moderated teacher assessments.

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Schoolchildren at work in a classroom.

Particular focus was thrown onto Year 11 pupils, who have gone without GCSE examinations for the past two years - with teacher assessed grades being handed out last year.

But the report also highlighted how some youngsters actually benefitted from a lack of formal examination, as they find them to be too stressful or intimidating to reach their true potential.

Now, independent Cllr Prad Bains, who sits on the children and young people select committee, has claimed going back to exams could be a step backwards.

He said: 'Without exams, some students will have certainly done better - so I would suggest that this method of assessment is something to take forward, rather than taking a step back by reverting to the exam process.'

Councillor Prad Bains, right, previously served as mayor of Havant

Natalie Smith, the county council's secondary and post-16 education manager, said more evidence would be needed.

She said: 'Unexpected things did happen while students were learning from home - but attributing that solely to the style of assessement would be tricky.

'What we can say is that overall the children showed improvement when back in a proper learning environment - but there will have been ups and downs within each cohort.

'For the children who had no exams in 2020 or 2021 there are signs that having exam practice is really important for certain arenas. To remove that from a school portfolio would need significant investigation.

'It's undoubtable that different forms of assessment suit different children - when we have real data to work with, we need to feed that back through so that it can be examined realistically.'

The report also highlighted how mental and emotional development has been stunted by schools being closed, with mental health issues also taking a toll on young people.

Cllr Zoe Huggins said: 'This is such a complex issue and I hope there will be continued research to find the best way of supporting our youngsters.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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