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JK Blog: The Impact of the Pandemic on GCSE and A Level Students and Their Studies

The challenges of the last year have been well documented and the impact on children and their education has been discussed a lot in general terms. But what in particular has been the real effect of the switch to long-term assessment this year, from the all-or-nothing final GCSE and A Level exams of recent years?

How have students had to adjust?

We have been able to support many GCSE and A Level students throughout the pandemic, helping them adjust to home learning and the ongoing assessment of classwork and homework, filling in curriculum gaps and developing key study skills. These students have had to be adaptable, independent, tenacious and tough; they have had to cope with prolonged uncertainty and many changes in how they would be assessed, as well as working at home for long periods of time, separated from their friends and teachers. Whatever the outcome on results day, we should not underestimate what they have gone through.

Last-minute “cramming” for final exams has not been an option for this year’s candidates. We have helped students adjust to the need for greater consistency and sustained effort during this year. Some students always prefer to build up to the big event of a final exam paper, whilst others prefer to work steadily and with focus throughout the school year. We have been able to help both types of learner, whether or not the new way of proving themselves comes naturally to them. Our tutors have helped every student understand the importance of planning, organisation, stamina and dedication. These skills and attributes are vital for success within the current situation, but they are also invaluable lifelong assets.

The Next Cohort

As more children now prepare to enter both Year 11 and Year 13, we have started to help them gear up for these crucial years in their education. These students already know that they need to maintain the momentum and achieve good marks in their class tests and homework, in case those marks become the main basis for their final grades. We have talented expert tutors standing by to help many more children facing these challenges, along with a senior monitoring team on hand to monitor students’ progress and wellbeing, and coordinate multiple subject tutors where this is required. We can and do really make a difference to how prepared and focused students can be.

What Will Happen Next?

It’s been debated whether continuous assessment will be the future, but it’s probably more likely that there will be a combination of assessment and exams in the coming years. Ofqual have recently announced that exam boards will be required to offer students the chance to sit GCSE and A Level exams in the autumn if they wish to, following the award of teacher-assessed grades in July. Ofqual have said that these exams will not take into account any loss of classroom learning during the pandemic however, so students will need to be very well prepared. If students decide to pursue this route, perhaps because they generally perform better in one-off exams than in continuous assessment, then do call us – we can help them to confidently prepare and be ready to sit the autumn exams.

In other news, the EDSK Thinktank has recently suggested that A Levels should be replaced by a Baccalaureate system. This would possibly be studied over a period of three years, which could have a big impact on the future for GCSEs. Whatever happens in terms of exam boards and qualifications, students will need to remain focused on the current stage of their journey and the current set of qualifications, and do their very best.

JK Educate has been there for students throughout the pandemic and for ten years before that. We are committed to supporting families through every stage of a child’s education, from choosing a school to preparing for A Levels and even providing undergraduate support where it is needed. Whatever happens next with public exams and schooling in general, you can trust us to advise and support you. Your Child. Our Priority.


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