How Has COVID-19 Affected Online Learning And Private Candidates?

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The Effects Of COVID-19 On Online Courses

This has caused considerable stress on learners over the last 15 months, with some of them saying that their education has been seriously disrupted. Questions have been also asked about whether even the basics of education, such as English and Math, can ever recover. With many schools and colleges engaging in homeschooling and online learning, parents have also felt the effects, with many attempting to home school, while never trained to do so in the first place. Not surprisingly, there has been a realization of why teachers train for so long in order to teach, and many now appreciate how difficult it is to engage children and keep them focused.

We must not forget the online systems, thrown together quickly in order to attempt to deliver lessons. Some schools have been way ahead in actioning this technology but unfortunately, others just didn’t quite get to grips with it. However, can we blame them, as who would ever have anticipated a pandemic occurring in 2020, creeping up on us when we were so unaware and unprepared, causing destruction and mayhem everywhere?

Examinations 2020 Series

When Boris Johnson and his party decided to cancel examinations in 2020, they very quickly announced that all students would be receiving a predicted grade, based on work they had submitted. Some were overjoyed about this and some disappointed that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to physically sit their exams.

The government wrote in their announcement that private candidates would also be included, although they had not decided how at that time. However, this announcement was enough to give private candidates the confidence that everything was going to be fine.

Private candidates are individuals who do not attend a conventional school or college and consist of learners who are either homeschooled, studying through an online learning college, or just studying on their own by their own means.

Continually throughout the process, private candidates were informed that they would not be forgotten and predicted grades would apply to them as well. Seems good so far?

At the very last hurdle, just before grades were due to be finalized, examination centers published their interpretation of the government’s rules and as these were not clearly set out, it was left to the centers to decide what the rules actually meant. Due to this, the majority of private candidates were advised that they would not be able to receive predicted grades, unlike the school and college students, with very few going on to receive their GCSE or A-Level qualifications.

This caused mayhem, as university places were no longer on offer to these learners, even though the government had advised these establishments to take everything into consideration when accepting students and make allowances for some grades not being available.

Exam Results 2020

Many will remember the feeling of anger and bewilderment when examination results were published in 2020, with many learners receiving considerably lower grades than expected.

Unbeknown to many, an algorithm was the culprit which was put in place to try and predict the grade that the students should have received, regardless of the grades that had been submitted.

For many, this step was one step too far, with schools and colleges in an uproar over the results which impacted university placements, causing mayhem.

The government then did a u-turn and grades were amended, unfortunately, it was too late for some potential university applicants. Taking this on board, Gavin Williamson, the education secretary announced that under no circumstances would an algorithm be determining GCSE and A-Level results for 2021 examinations and they would be putting their trust in teachers to award grades.

Online And Private Learning After 12 Months

Fast forward to January 2021, we found ourselves in a situation we thought would be long gone, COVID-19 still impacting education. Very early on in January, Boris Johnson once again announced the cancellation of examinations, which left everyone wondering what the future held.

Again promises were made for private candidates and many of us questioned what exactly they did have in mind for private candidates this time, following the previous year’s fiasco.

Now we are in June and at a time when all grades are ready to be collected. It seems that the examination centers are a lot more cooperative now, some even making arrangements for private candidates to submit mock exams if they are not with any other learning providers.

Many private candidates have now submitted work to enable them to receive their grades, and only time will tell if the plan is actually going to come together and learners are going to salvage something out of this difficult situation. Let’s hope private candidates are on the winning team this time and they do not lose another year of their education!

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