This month is an opportunity to reflect on what has happened so far in lockdown, focusing on what we have learnt and how we can use this moving forward.
What we have learnt from this period of calculated grades
The Centre Assessed Grades period of 2020 will have closed by the time you read this blog. Workplaces are starting to open up and educational establishments are planning for the “new norm”, without anyone being able to truly put their finger on what this “new norm” will look like. Words like bubble, have taken on an educational context for the first time. This blog is not a forward facing one (I will leave that for next month), rather this is an opportunity for reflection on what we have learnt since March 2020.
Providers everywhere have gone the extra mile to support their learners and their local community. For example, FE Foodbank Friday was set up by London South East College Group to respond to the needs of the community in South East London. It has now become a national initiative with over 30 providers supporting the concept. It has been a truly amazing experience to see and support, the ways that providers have taken this in their stride and put learners at the forefront of their thinking.
Centre Assessed Grades
In total, Pearson has processed over 140,000 applications for Centre Assessed Grades for Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills English, mathematics and ICT. We are currently in the process of reviewing the Entry Level data. The Level 1 and 2 data will be reviewed in the next 1-2 weeks. We may be in touch with centres if we need to discuss submissions, so please ensure you have all supporting evidence up to date and available in case it is required.
The following are some of the things I have learnt from the period of calculated grades:
- Tutors and providers always want to do what is best for their learners. I do feel this needs to be said.
- People had questions, so many questions. I spent eight weeks delivering training sessions, answering questions via email, text, phone and social media. At one point I sent over 500 emails in a day.
- Online is not the same as face to face, for teaching and training and for information sharing. When working with groups online, I found it difficult to assess if the message I was giving was getting across in the way I wanted it to. I could not see people’s reactions or ask diagnostic questions in this format. I have recently watched what I consider a very important video from Dr Robin Bevan for NACE on the limitations of remote learning that points to what needs to be done to improve remote learning.
- Providers need to improve at keeping records of learning that has taken place for individual learners. When calculating grades these records were vital, especially for instances where learners had not taken a mock test. It has become obvious, after talking to so many providers, that this tracking does not follow the same format for all. While not advocating the use of a one size fits all format, providers do need to put some thought into how they do this and how it can be improved. Many providers did not have the evidence they needed to calculate grades.
- On a related note, providers would benefit from a way of storing marked learner work virtually. This would be useful for when OFSTED comes knocking too.
- It felt like many learners did not have an Individual Learning Plan in place for their English and maths. As the calculated grades were forward facing, an ILP would have demonstrated what a provider was planning to do to support their learners and would have helped provide evidence of a potential pass.
- Finally, never give out your work phone number.
For further information on supporting Functional Skills providers through COVID-19, visit our website.
Chris Briggs, Sector Manager Post-16 English and Maths