A parliamentary inquiry was launched today to investigate how teachers will be supported financially during the coronavirus epidemic, as well as how fairly GCSEs and A levels will be graded following the cancellation of exams.
In a letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson today, Robert Halfon, chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, called for clarity over the impact of cancelling exams and how teachers would be supported financially.
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The inquiry will look into “the effect of cancelling formal exams, including the fairness of qualifications awarded and pupils’ progression to the next stage of education or employment”.
The impact of coronavirus on education
The letter says: “We are particularly concerned about the fairness of any grading system for children and young people who would have taken formal exams this year."
The inquiry will also look into the level of financial support available for teaching staff, “including those on non-permanent contracts, such as supply teachers”.
Mr Halfon said: “The education committee recognises that the closure of schools has been a massive decision with huge implications and would like to put on record its thanks to the education secretary and ministers who are having to make tough decisions in very difficult circumstances.
“We appreciate the briefings that the committee have so far received from ministers and officials at the DfE.
“We would particularly also like to thank all the education professionals – the staff, the teachers, the ancillary staff – who are doing everything possible to continue to educate our children. We recognise that this is an incredibly worrying time for all."
The committee will look into:
- The critical workers' policy, and how consistently the definition of "critical" work is being applied across the country and how schools are supported to remain open for children of critical workers.
- The capacity of children’s services to support vulnerable children and young people.
- The effect of provider closure on the early years sector.
- The effect of cancelling formal exams, including the fairness of qualifications awarded and pupils’ progression to the next stage of education or employment.
- Support for pupils and families during closures, including
- The consistency of messaging from schools and further and higher education providers on remote learning.
- Children’s and young people’s mental health and safety outside of the structure and oversight of in-person education.
- The effect on apprenticeships and other workplace-based education courses.
- The financial implications of closures for providers (including higher education and independent training providers), pupils and families
- The effect on disadvantaged groups, including the Department for Education’s approach to free school meals and the long-term impact on the most vulnerable groups (such as pupils with special educational needs and disabilities and children in need)
- What contingency planning can be done to ensure the resilience of the sector in case of any future national emergency.