“Welcome to college. Lovely to have you. Here is your course booklet. Oh, also, did someone talk to you about GCSE resits? Yes, the same exam you sat in school. Oh, no one talked to you about that? Well, I am sure it will be fine.”
I imagine this conversation, or what is likely a more helpful version of it, takes place at many FE colleges around the country at the beginning of term.
I see the reasoning behind the resit policy. I get that every young person should have the opportunity to obtain a prestigious qualification that carries significant weight with employers, universities and other training organisations.
But consider the group that is at the heart of our piece this week on access arrangements. Consider having struggled with exams your entire school life. The relief you would feel at finally leaving and starting a new chapter in further education, following your interests and focusing on strengths and talents that will open the door towards a successful career. And then you arrive at college, only to find the exam you failed at school has followed you there.
Now add to that the fact that what hasn’t followed you to college, sadly, is the case you had made for additional support needs and deserved extra time.
The place that was going to signify a new start and a great wealth of opportunities has suddenly become daunting and scary. The odds are now stacked against you. Again.
We must be able to do better. Surely, if a young person has demonstrated they need extra support in an exam, at the very least, someone will be able to print off an official piece of paper showing that.
Someone must be able to pick up the phone to another awarding organisation and take this particular burden off a young learner who is already facing a massive mountain to climb. It is mindless bureaucracy, nothing more. We can’t allow it to challenge further our already challenged students.