I’m aware that yesterday’s announcement (Monday 4th) by the Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, that blended learning will continue until at least the 18th January may have caused some anxiety for pupils and for you as parents/carers. With COVID-19 transmission rates remaining high, these arrangements may also be extended beyond this date. With this in mind, I would like to update you with our plans over the coming weeks with regard to keeping you and your child fully supported.
Whilst the school buildings may be closed to pupils, staff are setting and marking work daily using Google classroom. Please refer to the ‘Blended Learning’ section on the school’s website (macs.uk.net – under ‘Curriculum’). Faculties have created detailed blended learning calendars in Google which provide details of topics being taught, along with deadlines and assessment opportunities. I would encourage you to discuss these calendars with your child to ensure that they remain on track with their studies and do not fall behind.
End of Year Assessment Arrangements
Before Christmas, the Welsh Government’s ‘Design and Delivery Advisory Group’ announced plans for end of year assessments for GCSE and A Level. The plan is to replace traditional examinations with a combination of Non-Examined Assessment (coursework) and externally-marked Internal and External Assessments. As outlined in its published timeline for teachers (see attachment), the WJEC have today published “high-level information on qualification structures” for teachers on its secure website. That said, the situation remains volatile due to the ongoing pandemic, this is reflected in the following statement from Qualifications Wales this afternoon:
“Qualifications Wales has will be continually monitoring arrangements put in place for the assessment of qualifications in 2021 in the light of changing policy on the opening of schools and colleges.
Philip Blaker, CEO of Qualifications Wales said, “We are working with the Government’s Design and Delivery Advisory Group on the assessment approach for Summer 2021 to make sure it is fair and considers the impact of the fast-moving nature of the pandemic. We will provide regular updates so learners and teachers are clear on the approach for assessments.”
Please be assured that, should any changes be made to the current assessment plans, you will be notified straight away.
As you will be aware, the mock exams that were originally scheduled to take place before Christmas were re-scheduled to take place the week beginning the 18th January 2021. However, due to the assessment changes announced by the ‘Design and Delivery Advisory Group’, these will now be postponed indefinitely, pending any further announcements on assessment from the Welsh Government. As it currently stands, mock examinations will not contribute anything to pupils’ end of year grades.
End of Year Reports
Staff are currently writing end of year reports for Year 11 pupils and these will be distributed to pupils early in February.
Year 12 Options
As I announced before Christmas, the Year 12 options process will take place remotely this year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A website, containing details of possible courses on offer across the 3 schools in the Cynon Valley Consortium (Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, Aberdare Community School and St John Baptist School) will be launched shortly and pupils will be given a ‘free choice’ form to indicate their initial choices. Further details will follow.
The careers adviser, Mr Sam Richards, has sent a short survey, via ParentMail, to ensure that he can continue to provide relevant guidance and support for pupils during the lockdown. Please keep a look out for this email and respond if you can.
Pupil Wellbeing and Support
We are acutely aware of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lack of face-to-face contact on pupils’ wellbeing and we are looking at new ways of supporting pupils in fulfilling their potential in their subjects. Options being considered include reducing the number of subjects studied by some pupils to enable them to focus on a smaller number of subjects where they are achieving most success. If your child is being considered for this support you will be notified in due course.
Staff making wellbeing calls will also prioritise Year 11 pupils over the coming weeks to ensure that they are equipped to learn and engaging in their learning. In the meantime, if you have any questions or issues to raise regarding any aspect of your child’s education or anything in this letter, please do not hesitate to contact me at the school on 01443 479199 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks for your on-going support during these challenging times.
Mr Derek Mead