What’s in the news?

14/02/2022 | All

February Edition

Welcome to our February edition of ‘What’s in the news?’. Read on for an update on some of the most relevant and interesting education news of the month so far!

GCSE 2022: Key Information

This year, GCSE exams will take place in school or college for the first time since 2019 following two years of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic. Provisional GCSE exam timetables have been released by Edexcel and these state that exams will begin on 16th May and finish on 28th June. Results day for students will be on Thursday 25 August 2022.

Many of the rules around the GCSE sittings have stayed the same as pre-covid, however there have been some slight changes surrounding content adjustments:

  • GCSE appeals: GCSE students will be able to appeal their grades as is normally the case. These will take place in their usual form of a ‘review of marking’. This means that an examiner will check the original marking of the paper in order to see if it is within their range of ‘tolerance’. Grades can go up or down as a result of an appeal.
  • GCSE resits 2022: For any students who are not happy with their grades, and are unsuccessful in their appeal/choose not to appeal, there will be the opportunity to sit an examination in summer 2023. English and Mathematics exams will be available to resit in November 2022.
  • Adjustments for the exams: It is recognised that students in exam years have had two years of disrupted learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the Department for Education has decided to make adjustments to the 2022 exams. This includes reducing content and advance information on exam topics. Click to find out more about changes to 2022 exams.

Should PE be made a core subject?

The three core subjects of English, Maths and Science should be joined by PE, according to a Lords report. Although PE has been a part of our education for years, it still seems to be pushed to the back of the timetable by core subjects.

A report published in December issued a call for a change to PE’s standing in the school timetable. The proposal to make PE a core subject was made in the Lords select committee report, ‘A national plan for sport, health and wellbeing’, in which the committee suggested that PE should have exactly the same weight as English, Maths and Science on the curriculum.

According to Active Lives, over 1/3 of the child population are doing less than 30 minutes of exercise per day. Although partly concerned with the effects of the pandemic, PE was already a subject that was slowly slipping off the radar in many schools.

Ofsted have also picked up on this problem in their review, saying that “practical aspects of subjects such as PE were sometimes not being taught” even when schools returned after lockdowns, and that there was instead an ‘increased focus on English and Maths teaching’.

The DfE is currently reviewing the committee’s report and will be responding to the recommendations as part as the government’s response. Find out more on their campaign here!

Poorer pupils are an extra month behind in Maths

According to the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), disadvantaged primary school pupils have fallen a month further behind their peers in Maths since the Covid pandemic.

The updated study shows that most of the widening of the disadvantage gap happened during the initial lockdown, which started in March 2020. Research shows that from autumn 2019 to summer 2021 there was an increase in the Maths disadvantage gap between FSM6 pupils (those who have been eligible for free school meals in the past six years) of between 4 and 17 per cent.

Professor Becky Francis, CEO of the EEF, said that the research shows that ‘the pandemic has left children and young people from disadvantages backgrounds worse off. Teachers have been working to close the attainment gap since long before the onset of Covid-19 and they know progress to close it is hard-won’.

Commenting on the report, James Turner, CEO of educational charity The Sutton Trust, said the research shows that the pandemic has driven a wedge between the education outcomes of disadvantaged schoolchildren and their classmates. However, he states that a ‘reboot’ of the National Tutoring Programme – the government’s flagship catch up programme – could combat this. The EEF have found that high-quality tutoring can lead to five months’ additional progress for children over a single year.

Could rebooting this programme be the way to catch up these students?