We need an evidence-based expert approach to the post-pandemic recovery of young people

Blog post by Patricia Broadfoot, University of Bristol; Roger Murphy, University of Nottingham

In December 2020, the Westminster government promised to set up an expert group to consider solutions to the huge variability of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on pupils’ educational experiences and progress. Two months later the Department for Education (DfE) announced that plans for this group had been scrapped. Instead, the DfE has appointed an education recovery commissioner to focus on so-called ‘learning loss’. Two successive children’s commissioners, the head of Ofsted and many others have expressed serious concerns about the current situation. There has also been widespread disagreement about the best strategies to employ and the resources required.

We need the best possible expertise to identify the issues that must be addressed if children are to flourish. We need experts to provide an integrated picture of the challenges that children face, and to suggest appropriate ways of addressing them. Without such expertise children could suffer lifelong impacts, as argued by two children’s commissioners and in a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (Sibieta, 2021). That report drew the following conclusions, which reflect our key concerns.

(more…)

Students’ anxiety about the allocations of grades for cancelled high-stakes public examinations

Dr Lucy WenhamClaire Lee

Blog by Dr Lucy Wenham, University of Bristol and Claire Lee, University of Bristol

With the imminent release of A-level grades in England on Thursday, 13 August, followed by GCSEs on 20 August, anticipation is mounting. This year will be unlike any other. For the first time, with mass school closures resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, students have not had the opportunity to sit these high-stakes public examinations. They will instead receive allocated grades, arrived at through a combination of predicted grades, teacher judgments and comparative rankings of their perceived performance in relation to their classmates (Ofqual, 2020). Our research (EBI, 2020) clearly shows that students directly affected are experiencing considerable stress, anxiety and a feeling of helplessness concerning the allocation of these grades – which is unsurprising given that their future educational and employment choices and opportunities are at stake. (more…)