7-9 August 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Blocking pupil grade appeals could deny opportunities “for years to come”
  • Government should encourage universities to “exercise leniency” for 2020 admissions
  • Lack of test and trace leaving local authorities blind-folded with regional lockdowns
  • Government must provide practical and financial support ahead of schools opening fully

Blocking pupil grade appeals could deny opportunities “for years to come”

Responding to news that schools, but not individual pupils, will be able to challenge the GCSE and A Level grades awarded, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

This completely fails to get to grips with the issue. If individual pupils are not able to challenge grades which are an unfair reflection of their ability, it could seriously impact their education and employment opportunities for years to come.

It is absolutely unacceptable for any student to be unfairly penalised because of their family’s income or any other factor.

The Secretary of State needs to urgently put in place resources to ensure every child has the chance to appeal their grades and resit assessments when it is safe to do so.

Government should encourage universities to “exercise leniency” for 2020 admissions

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to issue guidance encouraging universities to “exercise leniency” in admitting students with lower-than-predicted grades, in the wake of concerns about how grades will be awarded this year.

Describing plans to prevent students appealing their grades as “completely unacceptable”, Layla Moran, the party’s Education spokesperson, has written to the Education Secretary calling for him to ensure:

  • Students will have the chance to appeal their grades for free, as well as providing free advice on the appeals process;
  • Guidance is issued about how students can safely re-take assessments in the Autumn;
  • Guidance is issued to universities encouraging them to exercise leniency when it comes to admitting students who are awarded lower grades than predicted, especially if they come from a disadvantaged background.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

A young person’s GCSE and A-level grades will impact their education and job opportunities for years to come. It is disgraceful for any young person to have their grades lowered unfairly.

Guidance published today which suggests individual students won’t be able to appeal their grades directly with Ofqual is a travesty. Government must step in immediately and confirm that pupils will be able to appeal their grades free of charge.

The Government should also give clear guidance to universities, encouraging them to exercise leniency when it comes to entry requirements, given the chaos cuased by COVID-19. Without this, I am really worried that that inequality in access to higher education will become even more stark as a result of this crisis.

Lack of test and trace leaving local authorities blind-folded with regional lockdowns

Responding to the news that a rise in coronavirus cases in Preston has led the Government to reintroduce lockdown measures in that area from midnight, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The Government must act now to reassure people in the Preston area that they are managing this serious outbreak. This is difficult when the Prime Minister has yet again brought in a regional lockdown without a press conference.

Ministers must urgently examine the data and act immediately if necessary, hand in hand with local government, to keep people safe.

However, this has not happened. Ministers have utterly failed to make sure we have a comprehensive test, trace and isolate system in place. This has left local authorities blind-folded whilst having to try and stop the spread of coronavirus in their communities.

If we are to stop a potential second wave, the Government need to step up and ensure we prevent it happening in the first place. This requires fixing their failure to trace all those with the virus.

Government must provide practical and financial support ahead of schools opening fully

Responding to comments from the Prime Minister that reopening schools fully is a “national priority”, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Months of remote learning has seen too many pupils left behind. It is absolutely right to prioritise getting children back to school.

To do so, school leaders, teachers, parents and pupils need to have real confidence that schools will be COVID-safe come September. A comprehensive test, trace and isolate system is critical to reopening classrooms as safely as possible. Ministers need to work with local authorities to improve the NHS Test and Trace service, which is still failing to reach enough close contacts.

The Government must also use these last vital weeks to ensure school leaders have the practical and financial support they need ahead of opening fully. We want to see radical steps to support education providers, from opening up community spaces to schools, to a Teach for Britain campaign to bring in new staff.

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