The teacher responsible for transforming four schools across West Yorkshire has urged Government to set out how next year’s exams will be graded - offering clarity to thousands of worried students across the district.
Adrian Kneeshaw, CEO and headteacher of Carlton Academy Trust who also turned around Tracks Pupil Referral Unit in Shipley, University Academy School Keighley and another school in Halifax said there needed to be a caveat and some form of consultation on exams due to be sat in 2021 given GCSEs and A-levels are two year courses.
He hopes by September the virus will be controlled meaning schools can return to normal teaching.
Speaking on a podcast with former cabinet minister Esther McVey he said children needed to be in the classroom and home learning experiences would have varied greatly for students.
Mr Kneeshaw said: “It is accentuating the gap between the disadvantaged students and non-disadvantaged students. Not every family can afford a laptop for their child and some parents cannot speak English or it is not their first language.
“We have two competing priorities, health and safety and education and social mobility of the students. It is a very difficult situation as they are competing priorities and are pretty much mutually exclusive. There are issues and I do empathise with Government in wrestling these two competing priorities, but I think over time it will be the priority of the education and social mobility and that will become more prevalent than the health and safety over a longer time.”
His views were shared by Stuart Herdson, former teacher at Salt Grammar School in Shipley and past president of the association of teachers and lecturers.
He said: “If you look at disadvantaged children, I have been speaking to parents and teachers and they are suffering and not doing the work at home and part of the reason they are not doing it is because the parents do not understand and it is very frustrating for some parents that they cannot help their children as they do not understand how they are meant to teach it and that is why we have teachers.”
Mr Herdson said if social distancing still needed to be in place come September schools would have to adopt a phased approach, but the most important years must be the current years 10 and 12 and year five in primary – all which face exams next year.
Ms McVey, hosting the chat said: “I cannot comprehend how we are allowing a generation of young people to go six months with minimal education and how can it be right that some children are getting six hours a day online learning, others one and some none. School children are the least effected by the virus but will end up being the most affected by it. If pubs, cinema, museums can open again, we can go on holiday it is unacceptable to me that children would not be back in school one way or another. I get it may be blended learning, it may be one week on or one week off, but I do not believe we can even think about going past September.”
Shipley MP Philip Davies wants assurances all students will be back in September, believing too much school has already been missed.
Mr Davies said: “Bradford has one of the worst levels of educational outcomes in the country and the longer pupils are not going to school the gap between rich and poor will be entrenched. Not all families have access to a computer and home learning will have been a very different experience for children based on their individual circumstances. I want every child to get the best possible education and that means being back in the classroom and I made that clear when discussing the issue with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
“We all hope there will not be a second spike of the virus and come September usual learning will be resumed but schools and Government need to prepare for all eventualities and have a plan in case social distancing is still in place or needs to be reintroduced, whether that be blended learning or separate year groups in at different times. We cannot have another situation where pupils are missing so much school.”
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