Vocational Exams Update

Southgate School has decided to cancel next week’s vocational exams. The 11th hour decision by the Department for Education (DfE) that it is up to schools and colleges as to whether vocational exams should take place, has put us in a very difficult position. The DfE decision appears to have no message for students in schools that do cancel for safety reasons and does not reflect the issue of fairness between vocational and technical students, with their peers taking A Levels and GCSEs whose exams have already been cancelled. 

The government’s overriding public health message is one of ‘stay at home.’ Even if exams could take place in Covid secure surroundings, it will still not address how individuals, including assessors and staff, will feel about taking part. A decision to go ahead will necessitate students and adults involved putting themselves at heightened risk because they may have to use public transport to get to and from school.  

Pearson’s who run BTEC exams has said:

We want to ensure that you and all those working in schools and colleges are supported by us regardless of the choice that is made by your school or college on whether exams take place.  Where a college or school decides to offer exams, you will be able to sit your external assessments as planned and if your school or college decides not to offer vocational exams, we have agreed the following with Ofqual and the DfE to ensure that no learner is disadvantaged.

• We will award a grade for any learner who is unable to take their exams and has enough evidence to receive a certificate that they need for progression. 

• Learners unable to take their assessment this January may be able to take their assessment at a later date. If that is not possible, we will put in place arrangements to ensure you are not disadvantaged.  

Whilst OCR have yet to publicly comment, they have told us that they expect candidates to be withdrawn or absent. 

My sincere sympathy goes to the young people affected by this late decision. 

To date there has been no information released as to how the government intends to manage the awarding of students grades this summer. We will obviously keep you informed just as soon as we hear anything definite, but please be assured in the interim that we will work with to support all of our students throughout this difficult time.


Mr. Martin Lavelle