Colleges cancel classes to cope with GCSE resits boom


https://www.tes.co.uk/news/further-education/breaking-news/colleges-cancel-classes-cope-gcse-resits-boom

Colleges in England are struggling to deal with a huge increase in the numbers of young people resitting English and maths GCSEs.
The unprecedented numbers have created huge logistical issues for colleges, some of which have had to suspend their entire curriculum while they use classrooms and offices as makeshift exam rooms. 
Some have had to book external venues to cope with the demand, including town halls and places of worship. City College Norwich even hired the arena at the Norfolk Showground, transporting more than 1,100 students to the venue in a fleet of double-decker buses for Tuesday’s English paper.
The problems have arisen because this year all students who did not achieve grades A*-C in GCSE maths and English by the age of 16 have had to continue to retake the subjects as part of their further studies.
Colleges have warned that the situation is set to worsen with the introduction of new, more academic GCSEs this September and the requirement that all students who achieve a D grade will have to retake until they get at least a C. This year, students can opt for functional skills qualifications instead. From next year, however, that option will not be available.
Colleges are calling on the government for more support to help them deal with the situation.
At Kirklees College in West Yorkshire, more than 600 students sat Tuesday’s English exam – double the number of last year. Some 1,800 were enrolled for the two maths exams scheduled for Monday and yesterday, also twice 2014’s figure. 
The college decided to limit the use of external venues and host exams in more than 70 on-site classrooms, in order to make students feel more comfortable. However, it still had to use a nearby Sikh leisure centre because of a lack of space.
Kirklees has also been forced to train dozens of teaching and administrative staff to act as exam invigilators. As a result, deputy principal June Durrant said the college had taken the “radical and unprecedented” step of suspending the rest of the curriculum on the days of the exams. 
“These are very significant numbers; it is a massive increase for us,” she said. “Logistically it’s quite a significant undertaking, but we have to take decisions that best suit the students. 
“It is important that they get their GCSEs because they are the gold standard. But it would be better if more of the students coming to us already had them.”
City College Norwich principal Corrienne Peasgood said that hiring the nearby arena to host the exams, combined with laying on transport for students, had cost more than £50,000.
“We would have needed double the number of invigilators if we had held the exams across our classrooms,” she said. “It didn’t seem fair to put such disruption on the other students. I’m not sure the consequences of this political decision were fully realised. I don’t think anybody really thought what it would mean for colleges logistically.” 
Gill Clipson, deputy chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “We are having reported to us that the volume of students [taking resits] has increased dramatically. This is causing serious logistical issues for many colleges, as well as the hidden costs of re-timetabling and taking on additional staff.
“We mustn’t underestimate the practical issues that colleges are facing.”
The AoC has also called on the government to work with colleges and employers to develop new, rigorous maths and English qualifications that are related to the world of work and everyday life.
“There must be a recognition that, after 11 years of schooling, some students haven’t reached this gold standard,” Ms Clipson said. “Students are coming into colleges demoralised and -demotivated, and it’s not only a matter of improving their competence but confidence, too. The situation will only become more exaggerated next year.”
Ms Clipson said there should also be more flexibility in the system, with more resit opportunities throughout the year.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “In order to make sure young people are ready for work, we want to make sure all those leaving education have high standards of maths and literacy. That is why we are supporting all those who do not achieve A*-C grades in maths and English at GCSE to reach that standard.
“Funding is allocated on a per-pupil basis and this covers exam entry. We also provide an additional £480 per student, per subject for all those with English or maths below grade C at GCSE, to fund additional support for learning.
“FE colleges are already making good progress in ensuring all 16- to 19-year-olds are given the opportunity to secure GCSEs in English and maths by age 19, and we know the vast majority of colleges are on track to enrol all students without A*-C GCSE on approved English and maths courses.” 
For the full story, get the 5 June edition of TES on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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About Paul Champion

Some have called me a leader, and a entrepreneur, they say I have integrity, presence and skills to ensure continuous improvement and success in whatever challenges I face. They also tell me that I am positive, resilient and motivating. I say, I'm just a normaI guy from Gateshead in the North of England, who started as an apprentice engineer. I have been in the right place at the right time and in the wrong place at the wrong time! I have successfully initiated and led complex organizations and situations to completion and success, and I have been in some jobs where success seemed untouchable. Mainly though, I have tried to learn everyday, help people to progress and learn the skills they need to be successful. I have had the privilege of working with some great people locally across the UK and more recently internationally in Asia, Europe and now USA, where I am lucky enough to work for www.3aaa.co.uk where I am head of 3aaa USA. This website is just me having an outlet to talk about all those thoughts, ideas and things I learn that pass through my head every day when I face the challenge of doing business. I will also rant on about how great apprenticeships are, and how you can help change peoples lives through them. After all thats how I got to do the great things that I have done, and also I am still an apprentice everyday! All I ask is that if you find it interesting then leave a comment and share what you read. THANK YOU.

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