A majority of teachers say students who are due to sit exams next year following months of school closures are not on track to get the results they are capable of, a survey suggests.
Staff in the most deprived schools are more concerned that pupils will miss out – with 60 per cent of these teachers saying they cannot provide resources needed for home study, according to the poll.
By contrast, fewer than one per cent (0.4 per cent) of staff in private schools said their students are not equipped to learn from home, according to the survey of 6,932 teachers in England by the Teacher Tapp app.
The poll, carried out for the Publishers Association, found more than half (53 per cent) of teachers with pupils due to take exams next summer feel they are not on track to get the results that they can achieve.
This figure rises to 66 per cent in deprived schools with the most children receiving free school meals.
Only seven per cent of teachers in England’s most disadvantaged schools felt that they could send students home with all the resources they would need in the event of a local lockdown or outbreak in the school, the poll suggests.
More than four in five (81 per cent) heads said that they do not have access to the funding needed to fully equip pupils who will take exams in 2021 with physical textbooks and/or workbooks required to succeed.
Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said: “Many pupils, particularly those from the most deprived backgrounds, will fail to achieve the exam results they are capable of and see their life chances harmed unless action is taken.”
He added: “The Government must urgently provide schools with additional funding to ensure that young people have access to the digital learning platforms and textbooks needed.
“There is no reason why a child attending a school in a deprived area shouldn’t have access to the same resources as those in the most privileged schools.”
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “The Government has to get real about the ongoing impact of Covid, as it works with Ofqual on the exams for next summer. As things stand, exams will become a measure of the disruption caused by Covid rather than what pupils are capable of.
“This is an opportunity for radical thinking. We’re going to need to adapt how we assess and examine students this year to these truly exceptional circumstances.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “Our biggest concern is over the likelihood of significant and ongoing disruption caused by Covid over the next few months which has the potential to cause serious disadvantage to some students who are taking GCSEs and A-levels in 2021.
“Students who have to self-isolate, or are affected by lockdowns, will inevitably cope to varying degrees with having to learn from home depending on factors such as being able to access online resources and how conducive their home environment is to learning. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are likely to be the most adversely affected.”
Last month, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Government was “actively considering” pushing back exams to give pupils more time to catch up on learning – and an announcement on the timetable is due this month.
He told MPs that students could sit their exams in public buildings next summer if social distancing is required in local communities – and a “reserve set” of exam papers may be introduced if pupils are unable to sit a test on a given day if they are unwell or self-isolating as a result of coronavirus.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “We recognise that students due to take exams next summer will have experienced disruption to their education, which is why we prioritised bringing Year 10 and Year 12 pupils back to school last term.
“There are a range of measures proposed by Ofqual, including a possible short delay to the exam timetable and subject-specific changes to reduce pressure on teaching time, that will ensure those young people taking exams next year have the same opportunities to progress as the students before them.
“We have also launched a £1 billion Covid catch-up package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time as a result of the pandemic, which headteachers and school leaders have the flexibility to decide how to spend in the best interests of their students.”
Picture: Archive photo, dated 07/03/12, of a general view of pupils sitting an exam. A majority of teachers say students who are due to sit exams next year following months of school closures are not on track to get the results they are capable of, a survey suggests. (David Jones/PA).