Assessments: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 19th May 2020.

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Photo of Nicholas Fletcher Nicholas Fletcher Conservative, Don Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department plans to allow schools to re-allocate expenditure on examinations to online learning resources due to the cancellation of examinations due to the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Government recognises that schools and colleges want clarity on exam fees following the cancellation of this summer’s exams. The Department for Education and the exam boards are working together to ensure that schools and colleges are provided with further information as soon as possible. The exam boards are looking at the costs that will be saved this summer, alongside new work they need to undertake to gather centre assessment grades and provide calculated grades to students.

Schools and colleges will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. This will ensure that they are able to continue to meet their regular financial commitments. We expect schools and colleges to pay any due invoices for exams, as the process is worked through.

The Department is committed to ensuring that students can continue to learn at home in these very difficult circumstances. We recognise that many schools and colleges have already shared resources for students who are at home, and we have issued guidance for schools and colleges which signposts to an initial list of free online resources identified by educational experts and teachers.

Leading state schools have collaborated to open The Oak National Academy, which was launched online on 20 April 2020. This free initiative is led by 40 teachers who have assembled video lessons and resources for any teacher in the country to make use of if they wish to do so. 180 video lessons will be provided each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from reception through to year 10. In addition, the BBC has developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on television and online at BBC Bitesize.

We have also committed over £100 million to boost remote education, including giving free laptops and tablets to children from disadvantaged backgrounds across England, care leavers and those with a social worker, to help them learn from home during the lockdown. Additionally, if families of these children do not have good access to the internet, we will provide them with 4G routers so that these children can learn online and access social care services. The Department will also ensure that every school and college that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education.

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