‘It is stressful as these are our futures’ - coronavirus leaves Norfolk exam students in limbo

A-level student Lilly Dollman. Pic: Lilly Dollman.

A-level student Lilly Dollman. Pic: Lilly Dollman. - Credit: Lilly Dollman

“For the last two years we have been working flat out - and now we’ve lost our opportunity to show what we can do.”

That’s the view of one of the thousands of students across Norfolk who have seen their exams cancelled due to their schools and colleges closing because of coronavirus.

Lilly Dollman, 18, is in Year 13 at Reepham College, where she is studying A-levels in English literature, history and sociology.

She said some of her friends were left in tears when it was announced the exams they were due to take this summer had been axed.

She said: “We’d finished college at 3.30pm, but happened to have organised a history revision session. We were at that and our phones started to light up saying the college would be closed. And then it said our exams would be cancelled.

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“One of my friends burst into tears. Everyone is very upset. For the least two years we have been working flat out - and now we’ve lost our opportunity to show what we can do.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has said the government will work with schools, colleges and England’s exams regulator, Ofqual, “to ensure children get the qualifications they need”.

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He has indicated that guidance will be issued on Friday as to how pupils unable to sit their exams due to school closures will get their grades.

School leaders have said they expect grades will be based on teacher assessment and evidence of internal assessment, such as mock exams. This could then be submitted to the exam boards to check.

Mr Williamson said the government will do “everything we can” to make sure children get results in August, but it hard to predict how events will unfold.

And Miss Dollman, from Aylsham, said: “The scary thing is that we just don’t know what will happen. My predicted grades are BBB, but I got As in my mock exams, so we’re wondering what they will go with.”

She has an offer to study media and environmental communication at Brighton, on the condition she gets BBC. She said: “We’ve all now got this waiting game and it is stressful as these are our futures.”

University admissions remain up in the air.

If sixth-formers are awarded A-level grades this summer, then these can be used as usual to admit students on to degree courses.

But, if is not possible to award grades in sufficient time, then one possibility is to admit students based on things like predicted grades and personal statements.

Miss Dollman, however, said the coronavirus may have to defer starting her university course, in any case.

She said: “I still want to go as I’ve had my heart set on it for so long. But my stepdad is at high risk, so I’m having to move out of my home. So, if I did go to Brighton, then with my mum in self-isolation, I would not get to see her before I went, so I might need to ask to defer for a year.”

MORE: Schools wait for guidance over exams and key workersSign up for the latest updates about coronavirus in Norfolk

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