Category: Children

Some useful advice from the British Psychological Society

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Categories: Children Coronavirus

Guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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What you need to know

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is going to affect daily life, as the government and the NHS take necessary steps to manage the pandemic, reduce transmission and treat those who need medical attention.

Regardless of their age, this may be a difficult time for children and young people. Some may react immediately, while others may show signs of difficulty later on.

How a child or young person reacts can vary according to their age, how they understand information and communicate, their previous experiences, and how they typically cope with stress. Adverse reactions may include thinking about their health or that of family and friends, fear, avoidance, problems sleeping, or physical symptoms such as stomach ache.

During this time, it’s important that you support and take care of your family’s mental health – there are lots of things you can do, and additional support is available if you need it.

Background

This advice is to help adults with caring responsibilities look after the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, including those with additional needs and disabilities, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For wider information on how to protect yourself and others, please see Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do.

This guidance will be updated in line with the changing situation.

Looking after your own mental health

As well as thinking about the children or young people in your care, it is important to take care of your own mental health and wellbeing. Children and young people react, in part, to what they see from the adults around them. When parents and carers deal with a situation calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children and young people. Parents and carers can be more supportive to others around them, especially children, when they are better prepared.

See guidance on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic or visit Every Mind Matters for clear advice and actions to take care of your mental health and wellbeing

Helping children and young people cope with stress

There are some key points you can consider about how to support your child or young person, including:

Listen and acknowledge: Children and young people may respond to stress in different ways. Signs may be emotional (for example, they may be upset, distressed, anxious, angry or agitated), behavioural (for example, they may become more clingy or more withdrawn, or they may wet the bed), or physical (for example, they may experience stomach aches).

Look out for any changes in their behaviour. Children and young people may feel less anxious if they are able to express and communicate their feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Children and young people who communicate differently to their peers may rely on you to interpret their feelings. Listen to them, acknowledge their concern and give them extra love and attention if they need it.

MindEd is a free online educational resource on children and young people’s mental health for all adults, which can support parents and carers through these exceptional circumstances.

Provide clear information about the situation: Children and young people want to feel assured that their parents and carers can keep them safe. One of the best ways to achieve this is by talking openly about what is happening and providing honest answers to any questions they have. Explain what is being done to keep them and their loved ones safe, including any actions they can take to help, such as washing their hands more often than usual. Use words and explanations that they can understand. There are resources available to help you do this, including the Children’s Commissioner’s Children’s Guide to Coronavirus, or the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) have produced a storybook developed by and for children around the world affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Make sure you use reliable sources of information such as GOV.UK or the NHS website– there is a lot of misleading information from other sources that can create stress for you and your family. It will not always be possible to provide answers to all the questions that children and young people may ask, or to address all their concerns, so focus on listening and acknowledging their feelings to help them feel supported.

Be aware of your own reactions: Remember that children and young people often take their emotional cues from the important adults in their lives, so how you respond to the situation is very important. It is important to manage your own emotions and remain calm, listen to and acknowledge children and young people’s concerns, speak kindly to them, and answer any questions they have honestly. For further information on how to look after your own mental wellbeing during the pandemic, see the guidance on how to look after your own mental health and wellbeing or visit Every Mind Matters.

Connect regularly: If it is necessary for you and your children to be in different locations to normal (for example, due to staying at home in different locations or hospitalisation) make sure you still have regular and frequent contact via the phone or video calls with them. Try to help your child understand what arrangements are being made for them and why in simple terms. Support safe ways for children and young people to maintain social interaction with their friends, for example via phone or video calls.

Create a new routine: Life is changing for all of us for a while. Routine gives children and young people an increased feeling of safety in the context of uncertainty, so think about how to develop a new routine, especially if they are not at school:

  • make a plan for the day or week that includes time for learning, playing and relaxing
  • if they have to stay home from school, ask teachers what you can do to support continued learning at home. The Department for Education have published a list of recommended online educational resources for home schooling
  • encourage maintaining a balance between being on and offline and discover new ideas for activities to do from home. The Children’s Commissioner guide signposts to some ideas to help fight boredom
  • children and young people ideally need to be active for 60 minutes a day, which can be more difficult when spending longer periods of time indoors. Plan time outside if you can do so safely or see Change4Life for ideas for indoor games and activities
  • don’t forget that sleep is important for mental and physical health, so try to keep to existing bedtime routines
  • it may be tempting to give children and young people treats such as sweets or chocolate but this is not good for their health, especially as they may not be as physically active as normal. See Change4Life for ideas for healthy treats

Limit exposure to media and talk more about what they have seen and heard: Like adults, children and young people may become more distressed if they see repeated coverage about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the media. A complete news blackout is also rarely helpful as they are likely to find out from other sources, such as online or through friends. Try to avoid turning the television off or closing web pages when children or young people come into the room. This can peak their interest to find out what is happening and their imagination can take over. Instead, consider limiting the amount of exposure you and your family have to media coverage.

Young people will also hear things from friends and get information from social media. Talk to them about what is happening and ask them what they have heard. Try to answer their questions honestly and reassure them appropriately.

How children and young people of different ages may react

All children and young people are different, but there are some common ways in which different age groups may react to a situation like the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Understanding these may help you to support your family. The common reactions to distress will fade over time for most children and young people, though could return if they see or hear reminders of what happened.

For infants to 2-year olds

Infants may become more easily distressed. They may cry more than usual or want to be held and cuddled more.

For 3 to 6-year olds

Preschool and nursery children may return to behaviours they have outgrown. For example, toileting accidents, bed-wetting, or being frightened about being separated from their parents or carers. They may also have tantrums or difficulty sleeping.

For 7 to 10-year olds

Older children may feel sad, angry, or afraid. Peers may share false information but parents or carers can correct the misinformation. Older children may focus on details of the situation and want to talk about it all the time, or not want to talk about it at all. They may have trouble concentrating.

For preteens and teenagers

Some preteens and teenagers respond to worrying situations by acting out. This could include reckless driving, and alcohol or drug use. Others may become afraid to leave the home. They may cut back on how much time they connect with their friends. They can feel overwhelmed by their intense emotions and feel unable to talk about them. Their emotions may lead to increased arguing and even fighting with siblings, parents, carers or other adults. They may have concerns about how the school closures and exam cancellations will affect them.

Children and young people who are accessing mental health services

Children and young people with an existing mental health problem may find the current uncertainty around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic particularly difficult. Their increased stress may lead to a change in their behaviours and their mental health needs. If you are concerned about how to access support if they need to stay at home, you may want to think about the following actions:

Speak to your child or young person’s mental health team

Contact your child or young person’s mental health team to discuss any concerns and check how care will continue to be accessed while you are at home. Update any safety and care plans as agreed.

Identify how the support your child or young person normally receives can be maintained

Ask about having appointments by phone, text or online, and how their health professional can offer extra support if your child or young person needs it.

If you usually have support in your home, check with your local authority or care provider what alternative arrangements are in place. Make sure it is clear if support is still needed for your child or young person.

If your child or young person has been admitted to an inpatient mental health unit, talk to the staff about their policies on access to mobile phones and think about how you can stay in contact, particularly if you have to stay at home. Ask the unit if you could participate in a virtual ward round to keep in touch with your child or young person’s mental health team. If you need to stay at home this will also impact on whether your child or young person can come home on leave, so talk to your child or young person about what might happen so they are fully informed.

If your child or young person becomes affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) they will need to be cared for appropriately, so talk to the unit about what plans are in place should this happen and how best to communicate these to your child or young person.

Plan how you will access medication

You might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone. Or you may be able to do this online using an app or website, if your doctor’s surgery offers this.

Ask your pharmacy about getting medication delivered or think about who you could ask to collect it for you. The NHS website has more information about getting prescriptions for someone else and checking if you have to pay for prescriptions.

Continue to order repeat prescriptions in your usual timeframe. There is no need to order for a longer duration or larger quantities.

Your GP might convert your child or young person’s repeat prescription to one that is supplied under the repeat dispensing arrangements. This means you can go back to the pharmacy for a certain number of repeats without having to get a repeat prescription from the practice.

Be careful about buying medication online. You should only buy from registered pharmacies. You can check if a pharmacy is registered on the General Pharmaceutical Council website.

You might also want to make arrangements for your child or young person if you become unwell, for example making sure a partner, friend, family member or neighbour is aware of important information including their care plan, medications and emergency numbers.

Eating disorders

Children and young people with an eating disorder may find aspects of the current situation particularly challenging, for example reduced availability of specific foods, exercise limits, social isolation and significant changes to routine.

If your child or young person has an eating disorder, you can seek support and advice from your local community eating disorder team. Most community eating disorder teams support direct access that is not reliant on a referral from your GP.

For children and young people with avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), take care about issues that arise if there is:

  • reduced availability of specific foods. This may mean your child or young person who is on a limited diet cannot get the foods they eat. Many will go without rather than have something else but with risk of weight loss or further nutritional deficiency
  • significant changes to your child or young person’s routine – for those with ARFIDthis can be extremely distressing and challenging to manage. Seek advice on how you can reduce the distress and risk of further reduction of their food intake
  • general heightened anxiety – monitor existing anxiety and obsessive compulsive behaviours that are associated with distress and how this is interfering with eating

The eating disorder charity BEAT provide a helpline and have developed guidance with clinicians on how to support your child or young person during this difficult time.

Children and young people with learning disabilities

Children and young people with learning disabilities can feel a loss of control in times of uncertainty such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They may need more support or adapted explanations about the outbreak. See the easy-read coronavirus (COVID-19) guide to looking after your feelings and your body for ideas.

A good way to help them could be by supporting their decisions, representing choices visually through written words, pictures, symbol systems or objects if helpful, supporting them to express their emotions and letting them know they are not alone. While listening, take their feelings seriously and don’t judge their emotions. They may feel anxious about big changes, such as the possibility of having to stay at home for a long period. Where possible, it can be helpful to explain any upcoming changes to routine and circumstances before they happen and help them to plan and come up with solutions, such as finding a hobby or doing exercises to relax and cope with anxiety.

For useful tips for talking about feelings, see Skills for Care advice. For further guidance on coronavirus (COVID19) for those with learning disabilities please see the Mencap website (includes easy read materials). BILD (the Learning Disability Professional Senate) have also published a collection of resources that may be useful to support families or carers of people with learning disabilities during the coronavirus restrictions.

If your child or young person has a specific health condition that requires them to leave the house to maintain their health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can if safe to do so. For example, if your child or young person requires specific exercise in an open space 2 or 3 times each day. This should ideally be in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional. Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.

Autistic children and young people

Autistic children and young people may struggle to identify any physical symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as having difficulty talking about the emotions the situation will create. Keep an eye out for changes in behaviour which may help you to identify their emotional state, as well as physical symptoms.

There is going to be disruption for all of us during the pandemic, for example it will not be possible to follow normal routines, or visit older family members. If your child or young person becomes ill, they may struggle to manage the physical experience. You can help to manage these changes using any strategies that you know work for your family, or see sources of further advice and support at the bottom of this section.

It is important to be honest when communicating with your child or young person about the changing situation, measures they can take to stay safe, and the symptoms of the virus. Try to avoid giving definitive statements about the future – this is a rapidly developing situation and your child or young person may be more distressed if things change when they were told they would not. Keep up to date with official information about coronavirus (COVID-19).

You should continue to access support of local autism groups online or via phone. The National Autistic Society guidance on managing anxiety might also be helpful – you can call the Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104 for further advice.

If your child or young person has a specific health condition that requires them to leave the house to maintain their health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can if safe to do so. For example, if your child or young person requires specific exercise in an open space 2 or 3 times each day. This should ideally be in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional. Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.

Children or young people with physical health issues

Children or young people with long term physical health issues, such as those who need continuous use of a breathing machine or are confined to a wheelchair or bed, may have stronger reactions to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They might have more intense distress, worry or anger than children without these issues because they have less control over day-to-day wellbeing than other people. Support them by listening to their concerns, providing open and honest explanations about the situation, and giving them information about what is being done to protect them.

You may also be concerned about how you will continue their care if you have to stay at home, or you may be worried about infecting them. If you usually have support in your home, check with your local authority or care provider what alternative arrangements are in place. Make sure it is clear if support is still needed for your child or young person.

For further information about the conditions that put children and young people at increased risk please see the guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable.

Children and young people who care for others

Some children and young people may also have existing caring responsibilities for adults or siblings. They may be anxious about what will happen if the person they care for becomes unwell, or what will happen if they themselves become unwell and are unable to support the person they care for. Even if they don’t currently act as a carer, it is possible that they may become one if they are in a household with one adult.

Planning with your child or young person what will happen if you or another member of the family they care for or may need to care for becomes unwell, including contact details for others who can step in and support them, will help to reduce anxiety.

Bullying

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may lead to some individuals experiencing bullying, discrimination or harassment, for example due to their ethnicity or nationality, or perceived illness. It is important to check that your children and young people are not experiencing bullying or bullying others.

Remind your children and young people that everyone deserves to be safe wherever they are – including online and at home. Bullying is always wrong, and we should each do our part to spread kindness and support each other. If they have been called names or bullied, they should feel comfortable telling an adult whom they trust.

For more help and advice resources, please see the Anti-Bullying Alliance website.

Experiencing grief or bereavement

Whenever it happens, experiencing the loss of a friend or loved one can be an extremely difficult and challenging time. Children and young people may not be able to say goodbye in the way they would have wanted and it may be harder to connect with their usual support networks.

Grief affects children and young people in different ways depending on their age, their level of understanding, and the changes the death means for their daily life. They often feel waves of powerful emotions such as sadness, guilt, shock and anger, which they may struggle to express. It is very common for their behaviour to change and for them to worry a lot about other people.

It can be challenging to support a child when you are grieving yourself. Listening carefully, answering questions honestly in an age appropriate way, continuing routines where possible, and providing lots of love and support will help. The NHS has advice about grief and the support available, and the Childhood Bereavement Network has information and links to national and local support organisations.

Where to get further support

If you are worried about your or your child or young person’s symptoms, see the NHS website. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

If you are worried about your child or young person’s mental health, seek help from a professional. You may have services attached to your child or young person’s school or college who can help. You could also contact your GP, or look up information on children and young people’s mental health services on your local CCG website or on the NHS website.

In a medical emergency call 999. This phone line should be used when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical health emergency and is a situation where your child or young person requires immediate professional care. For more advice on where to get support for a mental health crisis please see this NHS page.

If you do not feel safe at home there is help and support available to you and your family. The household isolation instruction as a result of coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.

Abuse is unacceptable in any situation, no matter what stresses you or others are under. If you or others are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police – the police will continue to respond to emergency calls.

The Home Office has produced guidance on further support available during the coronavirus pandemic for those who feel at risk of abuse, and to help perpetrators to change their behaviours.

For support as a parent or carer

Young Minds for Parents and Carers

Young Minds provides advice about mental health and behaviour problems in children and young people up to the age of 25. You can call the Parents’ and Carers’ Helpline on 0808 802 5544. Please be aware Young Minds do not provide any direct psychological services and cannot make referrals to the NHS or Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS).

Helplines and websites for your child and or young person

If your child or young person would like to speak to someone anonymously, they could try calling a helpline or visiting websites such as ChildLine and The Mix.

Shout provides free, confidential support, 24/7 via text for anyone at crisis anytime, anywhere.

You can:

  • text SHOUT to 85258 in the UK to text with a trained Crisis Volunteer
  • text with someone who is trained and will provide active listening and collaborative problem-solving

ChildLine provides a helpline for any child with a problem. It comforts, advises and protects.

You can:

The Mix provides a free confidential helpline and online service that aims to find young people the best help, whatever the problem.

You can:

Ofqual seeks views on GCSE and A level grading proposals for 2020

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Following the government’s decision to cancel exams to help fight the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and that students should be provided with calculated grades this summer, we have set out exceptional arrangements for awarding GCSEs, AS and A levels, along with the Extended Project Qualification and the Advanced Extension Award in maths, so that as far as possible students are not disadvantaged by these unprecedented circumstances.

We have worked quickly to develop these arrangements so that schools and colleges know what is expected of them and that students can have their results in time to progress to further study or employment as planned. We have consulted with a variety of representative groups, and have sought views from those representing students. We explained when we published our information document that we would consult on some of the implementation decisions we must take, and changes to our regulatory framework. We have today (Wednesday 15 April) launched a consultationseeking views on the following.

Who should receive a calculated grade

Whether students entered for exams in year 10 or below should receive a calculated grade this summer

We set out in our information document that we considered the arrangements should only apply to students in year 11 or above, who needed grades to progress, and that we would consult on this view. We have since received representations from centres, parents and others indicating that the progression of some such students would be disrupted if they were not awarded a grade this summer, and to exclude them would have an unfair impact. We now consider the fairest option is that results should be issued for students in year 10 and below who anticipated sitting exams this summer and we are seeking views on this proposal.

The impact of our proposals on private candidates

In line with our information document, we propose that exam boards should issue results for private candidates for whom a Head of Centre can confidently submit a centre assessment grade and include the student in their centre’s rank order. Other private candidates will have studied with an established provider, such as a distance learning provider that is also an approved exam centre and might similarly be able to receive a calculated grade. However, other private candidates will have no existing association with an exam centre. Exam boards are exploring, with us, whether it might be possible for some centres, such as those with particular experience of working with distance learners, to work with those private candidates who need a grade this summer in order to progress. The centre might be able to submit centre assessment grades and a rank order for those candidates, even though there is no existing relationship between the centre and the candidate by considering a range of evidence about their likely attainment. We do not yet know whether this will be possible, or how many students will be able to receive a grade in this way. Exam boards will continue to work with us to explore all options for how such a process could work and will provide an update on this no later than 30th April

Standardising centre assessment grades

The aims of our approach to standardising grades and the principles which underpin it

For example, the document sets out our proposals to address key questions such as:

  • how should we use statistical evidence to identify and adjust overly generous or harsh centre assessment grades?
  • should evidence of changes in a school or college’s past performance inform our interpretation of this evidence?
  • how can any issues of bias be addressed through statistical adjustment?

Our overriding aim is to make sure arrangements this summer are as fair as possible for all students. We are alert to concerns that unconscious bias could influence the grades schools and colleges might have expected their students to have achieved in the exams and assessments. Our consultation includes an equality impact assessment, of which we will take account when finalising these arrangements, and we have separately published a review of the research literature on bias in teacher assessments.

Appealing calculated grades

Whether appeals should include an opportunity to review:

  • the centre’s professional judgements
  • the procedures followed by the centre and/or exam board
  • the outcomes of the statistical process

We explain in the consultation why we consider that, in the exceptional circumstances of this summer, appeals should only be allowed on the grounds that the centre made a data error when submitting its information; or similarly, that the exam board made a mistake when calculating, assigning or communicating a grade

The autumn exam series

We explain our proposals to allow exam boards to run an autumn series for those students who were entered for the cancelled summer series. We are still considering with government how the autumn series should operate, and will set out our proposals in a further consultation soon.

Putting in place the regulatory requirements

Proposals to suspend temporarily a number of the provisions in our current rules so that the exam boards can deliver the results in line with the exceptional arrangements necessary this year. We will also put some new regulatory arrangements in place to make sure all exam boards work in line with the agreed new arrangements so that, as far as possible, standards and public confidence in the qualifications are maintained

In light of the speed with which the arrangements must be finalised if students are to receive their results in good time, and no later than the dates originally published, this consultation will close on Wednesday 29 April 2020. We encourage everyone with an interest to read the proposals and respond.

Increase to Working Tax Credits – what this means

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As part of a number of measures to support the country during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the basic element of Working Tax Credit has been increased by £1,045 to £3,040 from 6 April 2020 until 5 April 2021.

The amount a claimant or household will benefit from will depend on their circumstances, including their level of household income. But the increase could mean up to an extra £20 each week.

The government is also uprating Child Benefit, other tax credits rates and thresholds, and Guardian’s Allowance by 1.7% with effect from 6 April 2020. You can read the full list of Rates and Allowances.

These increases came into effect on the 6 April, but individual payment dates will vary depending on circumstances.

You don’t have to take any action and you will receive any increased payments automatically.

Use the tax credits calculator to get an estimate of how much you could get in tax credits in a 4-week period.

GCSE, A and AS Levels examinations.

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There are no doubt some among our community who were due to take exams this year. Hopefully, they will be aware of the alternative arrangements, but just is case below is the announcement made by HM Government this afternoon.

1. Did exams need to be cancelled?

From Friday 20 March, all educational settings are closed to everyone except the children of critical workers and vulnerable children.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is expected to continue having a significant impact on the education system, and the country, for months to come. Therefore, exams have been cancelled now to give pupils, parents, and teachers certainty, and enable schools and colleges to focus on supporting vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

2. What will happen to those who have already done some non-exam assessment?

Students who were due to sit A level, AS level or GCSE exams this summer will receive a calculated grade. The calculated grade process will take into account a range of evidence including, for example, non-exam assessment and mock results, and the approach will be standardised between schools and colleges. There’s separate guidance from Ofqual on awarding GCSE, AS and A levels which includes the implications for non-exam assessment.

3. How will you address the fact that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to have their grades under-predicted?

This summer’s calculated grades are not predicted grades. Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator, is developing a fair and robust process that takes into account a broad range of evidence, including assessments by schools and colleges of the grades that students would have been likely to obtain if exams went ahead and their prior attainment. Ofqual will make every effort to ensure that the process does not disadvantage any particular group of students.

Pupils who do not feel their calculated grade reflects their ability will have the opportunity to sit an exam as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again.

4. Will all students get their predicted grade?

No. We know that simply using predicted grades would not be fair to all students. The ‘centre assessment grade’ which the exam boards will ask schools and colleges to submit for A and AS levels and GCSEs will take into account an assessment of the likely grade that students would have obtained had exams gone ahead, and these will be standardised across schools and colleges. For this reason, students’ final calculated grades will not necessarily reflect their predicted grades.

5. Will schools be using mock exam results as a barometer for results – and is this fair on students as they did not know at the time these would be used as their final mark?

Mock exam results will be one of the pieces of evidence that will be taken into account in this process, alongside other factors. There’s separate guidance from Ofqual on awarding GCSE, AS and A levels which explains to schools and colleges how to do this fairly and robustly.

6. Will the past performance of the school be taken into account when devising the calculated grade?

Ofqual’s guidance says that one of the sources of evidence schools and colleges should draw on is the performance of this year’s students compared to those in previous years. However, this is only one of the sources of evidence that will be taken into account.

7. Is this an entirely new system?

This is a new system, but one which builds on existing practices, as education professionals are used to making holistic judgements about their students. These judgements will be standardised at national level to give grades that are as fair as possible.

8. Will universities, colleges and sixth forms accept these grades?

The calculated grades awarded this summer will be formal grades, with the same status as grades awarded in any other year. They will therefore be accepted by all institutions.

University representatives have already confirmed that they expect universities to do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to higher education.

9. What if I am unhappy with my calculated grade?

Ofqual and the exam boards are working to ensure that candidates are awarded a fair grade that recognises the work they have put in. If an A level, AS level or GCSE student does not believe the correct process has been followed in their case they will be able to appeal on that basis. Ofqual will consult shortly on the arrangements for these appeals. In addition, if a student does not feel their grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam, as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021, in line with usual practice.

10. What about private candidates or home educated students?

Where schools and colleges have accepted entries from external candidates (students who they have not taught themselves, because they have been home-schooled, following distance-learning programmes or studying independently), those students should be taken account of in the process of producing centre assessment grades, where the head teacher or principal is confident that they and their staff have seen sufficient evidence of the student’s achievement to make an objective judgement.

Ofqual is also exploring urgently whether there are options for those students who do not have an existing relationship with an exams centre and who need results this summer for progression purposes, and will provide an update as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be possible for all external candidates, some of whom may instead need to take exams in the autumn to get their grades.

Ofqual has asked organisations that represent higher and further education providers to consider the steps that providers could take when making admissions decisions this summer for any private candidates who do not receive a grade. They have said that they believe that institutions will consider a range of other evidence and information for these students to allow them to progress wherever possible.

11. Can private centres run GCSEs or A levels if they chose to do so?

No. Exam boards will not be issuing papers for this summer’s GCSE, AS and A levels so there will not be the opportunity to sit them at any centre.

12. Does this mean every exam in every module in every subject being cancelled, or will a limited number go ahead at GCSE and/or A level?

Exam boards will not be issuing papers for this summer’s GCSE, AS and A levels so there will not be the opportunity to sit them in any subject.

13. What about vocational and technical qualifications?

Many students will be taking vocational or technical qualifications instead of or alongside GCSEs, AS and A levels. While this process does not apply to those qualifications, the same aims apply. Our priority is to ensure that students and adult learners taking vocational and technical qualifications can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses, or apprenticeships in the autumn or getting a job or progressing in work.

Ofqual is working urgently with awarding organisations to develop an approach and will provide further information as soon as possible.

14. Will students be required to do further work to contribute towards their grade?

There is no requirement for schools and colleges to set additional mock exams or homework tasks for the purposes of determining a centre assessment grade, and no student should be disadvantaged if they are unable to complete any work set after schools were closed. Where additional work has been completed after schools and colleges were closed on 20 March, Ofqual is advising head teachers and principals to exercise caution where that evidence suggests a change in performance. In many cases this is likely to reflect the circumstances and context in which the work is done.

15. Can schools and colleges take incomplete coursework into account?

Ofqual’s guidance on awarding GCSE, AS and A levels makes clear that schools and colleges do not need to ask students to complete any unfinished non-exam assessment work for the purposes of grading. Where they do choose to take into account coursework completed after 20 March, Ofqual is advising head teachers and principals to exercise caution where that evidence suggests a change in performance. In many cases this is likely to reflect the circumstances and context in which the work is done.

16. What will young people with university offers do?

The grades awarded this summer will be formal grades, with the same status as grades awarded in any other year. There is no reason for the usual admissions cycle to be disrupted.

University representatives have already confirmed that they expect universities to do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to higher education

17. Do universities need to start making unconditional offers / should I accept an unconditional offer now that exams are cancelled?

Universities should not begin making new unconditional offers and applicants should feel no pressure to accept such offers, as they will be awarded a formal calculated grade for each exam they would have taken.

18. If I already have an unconditional offer, does that remain?

Yes. An unconditional offer means you have already met the entry requirements, so the place is yours if you want it.

19. If I take the exam option, will I still be able to go to university this year?

Students who do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance will have the opportunity to sit an exam as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the academic year.

While it cannot be guaranteed in every circumstance, Universities UK has assured us that the majority of universities will do all they can to ensure that such students who take this option are able to begin their course with a delayed start time.

If a student is in this situation, they should speak to the university from which they have an offer after receiving their calculated grade.

20. Are iGCSEs and the International Baccalaureate also cancelled?

Yes. Summer exams for both international GCSEs and the International Baccalaureate have been cancelled in all countries this year.

21. How will colleges, sixth forms and universities cope with the fact that these students will have missed out on some of their education?

These are extraordinary circumstances. We are working with schools, sixth forms, colleges and universities to ensure that we do everything we can to best help students prepare for and progress to the next stage of their education.

22. Might the exams be reinstated if the coronavirus (COVID-19) is not as bad as expected?

No. The decision has been taken to cancel all exams this summer.

Some useful advice for parents

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Councillor Faulconbridge has pointed us to some excellent targeted advice from the British Psychological Society. They can be read by using the links below.

Talking to children about illness according to their age and development stage.

Advice for parents on the effects of school closures.

As one of the above papers say ‘Children are not little adults….’ , we are in a unique situation and any insight into helping children cope must be useful.

 

Categories: Children Coronavirus