How will GCSE changes affect sixth form and college places?
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Thousands of Norfolk teenagers are facing huge uncertainty over exams after their GCSEs were cancelled.
When schools closed to a majority of pupils those facing the first major exams of their education faced uncertainty and confusion over what it would mean.
GCSEs, like A-levels, will now be awarded using teacher assessment where they put forward the grade they believe students would have achieved if they had sat the exams.
The government says the calculated GCSE grades will be on existing planned results day, August 20.
Unlike in previous years there will be no opportunity to appeal grades. Instead, students will be able to resit exams in the autumn but as yet it is unclear whether that will be for all subjects or how exam boards might organise it.
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The results will be vital for both those planning on entering Sixth Form to study A-levels and those planning to go to college. It will also affect those hoping to gain a place on an apprenticeship.
So what does this mean for students? Jerry White, deputy principal at City College Norwich, answers some of the burning questions...
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What is happening with sixth form and college places post GCSE?
No school, sixth form college or college wants to see any student disadvantaged because of the current situation – and your teachers, as well as your future teachers, are working hard to make sure that all students are able to progress as they would in a normal year. No Year 11 student should be left without a suitable place this coming September. At City College Norwich, for example, we are guaranteeing a place on a suitable course for every single applicant.
I’m worried that my GCSEs won’t be good enough to progress to the course/s I have applied for at sixth form or college - what should I do?
I would encourage all students, and their parents, to recognise that the current situation provides a unique opportunity that most Year 11s do not get – extra time to put in place a variety of suitable options for the next academic year. Use this to your advantage. You now have two or three months, that you weren’t expecting, to really nail down a good plan for your continuing education. Use this time to research all the available options, rather than putting all of your eggs into one basket. Don’t just have a plan A, but also a plan B (and even a plan C), so that you know what you are doing whatever your grades. School and college staff are continuing to work during this time, so you shouldn’t hesitate to contact them to ask any questions that may help you in the decision making process. At City College Norwich, we are continuing to provide impartial advice and guidance through our Advice Shop, as well as holding virtual information days.
I want to explore some more options for courses to study next year; can I still do that?
Absolutely. In addition to talking to staff from local schools and colleges there is a wealth of course and careers advice available online. Help You Choose, together with ICanBeA (covering Norfolk and Suffolk), are great places to start. The important thing is to explore your options in detail, talk to each institution you are considering, and give yourself more than one option.
I was intending to get an apprenticeship after my GCSEs; what advice do you have for me?
Apprenticeships are a great option for anyone who is looking to get straight into the world of work and who enjoys a more practical approach to learning. Unfortunately, they will not be immune to the disruption that has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It is likely that apprenticeship opportunities will be harder to come by, and the competition for places greater, as businesses come to terms with the economic impact of the pandemic. If an apprenticeship was your first choice, you should go ahead and seek out opportunities – but this year, more than ever, it makes sense to have a plan B and to proceed with an application for a school or college place.
MORE: What will GCSE, A-levels and vocational exam changes mean for students?NEXT: On Friday, May 1, Jerry White will be answering questions about what the changes will mean for students progressing into higher education and how make the most of the current situation