Colleges across North Staffordshire cancel BTEC exams


Thousands of BTEC students across North Staffordshire won’t have to sit exams this month after colleges cancelled them for safety reasons.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson had left it up to schools and colleges to decide for themselves whether to go ahead with vocational exams during lockdown.

But his announcement earlier this week was branded as ‘absurd’ as GCSE and A-level students have had their summer exams scrapped and will receive teacher-assessed grades instead.

BTEC students took to social media to demand to know why they were being treated differently, particularly as their exams were due to take place at the height of the pandemic.

Now colleges in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire have confirmed that students won’t have to travel to campus to sit exams during January.

A Stoke-on-Trent College spokesman said: “We have decided to cancel BTEC exams this month, except for childcare. Students require this module for a licence to practise as adaptations with the exam board, City & Guilds, are very difficult.

“All our decisions are based on ensuring health and safety and the well-being of our learners. We want to ensure that our students have the best opportunity to achieve their qualification in these demanding circumstances.”

Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College has also reassured hundreds of teenagers they won’t be expected to sit the exams. Staff apologised for the short notice, which came just hours before some students were due to take them.

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In a statement on its website, the college said: “After careful consideration of the possible impacts on students, the sixth form college have decided that we will not sit any external examinations in January.”

The decision affects a range of courses, including BTECs, Cambridge Technicals, maths skills and financial qualifications.

Around 2,200 students at Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group had already been informed on Tuesday that their BTEC exams wouldn’t be going ahead this month.

Buxton and Leek College said it was awaiting further national guidance.

But a statement on the college’s website said: “The safety and well-being of students and staff is of paramount importance and, with a surge in local infection rates together with the volume of students who travel from outside the immediate area to sit the examinations, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone BTEC health and social care and business and OCR IT examinations.”

Cheshire College-South & West also confirmed it won’t be running any exams that were scheduled to take place in January.

BTECs are awarded by Pearson through its Edexcel exam board brand.

Pearson’s senior vice-president, Cindy Rampersaud, said they were working with Ofqual and the Department for Education on alternative arrangements ‘to ensure no learner is disadvantaged’.

She added: “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.”





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