COVID-19 - Coronavirus

In view of schools' closure and cancellation of the summer 2020 exams, how can Excel in Key Subjects help GCSE and A-level students?

 Continuity of education support, despite coronavirus

Following the closure of schools and learning centres due to COVID-19, we continue to provide online tuition and support students in order that they can maintain a competitive edge, which is our main purpose.

Students need to keep studying and not to relax after the cancellation of exams, for two reasons:

a. The final grade estimate by the school and the examination board will take into account the work the student does from now to about July – when the grade will be awarded. Good schools are still setting work for all students to do

b.  It is naïve to think that it will be OK with the university – particularly the top universities, that a student does no study for the last term of school and will enter university and sail through the first year in a strong academic position – with no risk of dropping out.

 

GCSE and A-level – Y11 and A2 students

The government has announced the cancellation of the GCSE and A-level examinations for this summer and has adopted a policy on how grades will be awarded to GCSE and A-level students.

Quoting from the government’s website

“…The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer … 

…This means ensuring GCSE, A and AS level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to.”

Please see links to some of the government’s websites below for more detail

Following the publication of the above statement and after receiving correspondence from the school, some parents have contacted us to request that we continue to teach and support their sons and daughters. This is in order that the child can take up the option of sitting an exam in the autumn in the event they are not happy with the grades that the school has awarded based on school work and mock examinations.

We at EIKS have sympathy for this view, as the grade that the school will recommend may not be in line with the child’s expectations and may not be sufficient to gain admission to the university or sixth form of their choice. We have learnt from experience and observations that many students accelerate their performance in the few weeks before the summer examinations. Estimating grades is a very complex issue and, irrespective of how competent and experienced the teachers are, and, aside from favouritism and prejudices, there are many reasons why it is extremely difficult to get it right.

 

Link to government webpages on award of grades:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2020/coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2020

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-details-on-exams-and-grades-announced?utm_source=96f31727-1fb9-408b-a7fa-d91d4ceaeb6b&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=daily

Doing no study for six months is something that can cause all sorts of issues in the next stage of the teenager’s education

We appreciate that it is difficult to motivate a teenager to study, especially if the pressure of exams has been taken out of the equation. However, many students struggle mightily in the first year of A-level and find it very difficult to adjust to the huge gap between GCSE and A-level.

A2 students

For A-level students who gain admission to a top university, they will be competing with other students who may have been much better prepared. Most of the top schools have recognised the danger of students not studying to any great extent for the six months before starting university and they have decided to carry on teaching, irrespective of whether the students will be taking exams in the summer or not.

 KS3, Y10 and first year of A-level

As mentioned previously, although there is no imminent public examination for students who are not in Y11 or in the final year of A-level, it is vital to continue to strengthen their academic performance.

This will provide them a competitive advantage for when the schools resume in the autumn, or possibly earlier. There is, of course, a very strong possibility that they will miss the whole of summer term schooling in the traditional sense. Yes, many schools will provide some sort of online teaching, but this is not yet tested and the quality of what is delivered will vary from school to school. Considering that between 60% to 65% of the content is covered before students get into Y11, missing a whole term, or more, of school has the potential to harm performance.

Our objective is to ensure that the young people who study with us are not any way lagging behind when regular school resumes, avoiding all anxieties associated with the pressure to cover a high volume of content in a relatively short time.

 

We will do our best to provide some regular classroom teaching before the end of summer – say in July or August.  This will, of course, depend on when the government lifts the ban recently introduced due to the coronavirus.

 

The format for our online lessons following the compulsory order to study from home

A-level – both first and second year

  1. 60 minutes of small group teaching (45 minutes if one student)
  2. Two hours work set in terms of exam questions
  3. 20 minutes of one-to-one tutorial – dedicated to addressing individual student's weaknesses
  4. Milestone work set and marked, with written feedback provided

GCSE – Y10 or Y11 or KS3

  1. 40 minutes of small group teaching (30 minutes if one student)
  2. Two hours work set in terms of exam questions
  3. 15 minutes of one-to-one tutorial – dedicated to addressing individual student's weaknesses
  4. Milestone work set and marked, with written feedback provided

The nature of the lessons that we are providing incorporates the following:

  1. Teaching students, via video meeting – usually Skype and Zoom – two aspects – small group teaching and one-to-one (all lessons are recorded – for safeguarding and for students to use again)
  2. Access to resources in the form of assessment questions, PowerPoints and videos
  3. Compulsory follow-up assignments – with the student submitting work for marking
  4. Feedback element by the teacher – includes marking work

We appreciate that there a great deal of online material available and most of it free, but not, however, hugely effective! What we are putting together is much more structured and the personalised element – including one-to-one teaching and feedback – are key features in making a real impact on a student’s performance.

The lessons are a mixture of one-to-one and small group online teaching and will be mainly on Saturdays, but there is the possibility of arranging some of the one-to-one aspect for weekday evenings.