Parents of current Year 12s - are you worried your child’s uni chances might be affected by current school closures and this is something nobody is addressing yet?

(142 Posts)
clarification Thu 16-Apr-20 15:00:00

Hi, I was talking to a friend earlier who has a son in a large sixth form college. She was telling me there is a petition going around that Year 12s are demanding universities to show tolerance and maybe lower entry grades for the 2021 cohort due to the fact that -

- this year group are missing an important term in the run up to A-levels

- standards of online-teaching seem to vary massively between schools

- some pupils will obviously not have a home environment conducive to learning.

I have a DS in Year 12 and the online provision from his school will probably be very good to be honest, but even so, a term is a long time to keep motivated without peers to bounce off and the more disciplined, stimulating environment that school affords. I’m also aware that some schools are so busy teaching key workers children that they won’t have the extra time or resources for real-time online teaching, so work set is likely to be projects, etc which won’t suit the less motivated. My friend was saying her DS’ college haven’t even confirmed if or how they’ll be delivering the curriculum. How can this be right?

This got me thinking - a term is a long time. In effect, A-levels are taught over 5 terms, so these students are missing 20% of their “normal” education. In light of this, I’m wondering if there might be a justified call for unis to make more flexible offers for the Sept 2021 cohort. Interested to hear any views on here!

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DeathByBoredom Thu 16-Apr-20 15:03:53

I am hopeful they will be one of the years that start back in a few weeks time. Fingers crossed. Otherwise, yes, I am worried. It's the worst year to lose so much teaching input.

clarification Thu 16-Apr-20 15:06:11

Can I ask, where has it been announced that some years may go back in a few weeks?

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titchy Thu 16-Apr-20 15:13:00

Do you understand how A level grades are arrived at? The concept of the grade boundary, and the fact that it changes year on year depending on the performance of the cohort as a whole?

As all year 12 are affected the grade boundaries will be significantly lower than they were last year, so I don't think any year 12s have anything to worry about, certainly not bloody online petitions to universities (what - 400 petitions to all of them, or just one global petition to no one?).

Universities are stressed beyond belief right now trying to deal with current students, next years intake, the possibility of number controls, a delayed start and massive reductions in income. 2021/22 intake will be absolutely fine and have nothing to worry about I guarantee you.

noblegiraffe Thu 16-Apr-20 15:19:54

The same proportion of kids will get an A* as in previous years, same as all other grades. They won’t need to lower entry requirements.

There is an issue that some Y12s will be doing more work in the lockdown period than others. The best advice for Y12s currently is to engage with whatever schools are setting to the greatest extent possible (not getting a 40 hour a week job at Waitrose, for example) and to seek out online support and resources if they are not totally confident with the material that they were already taught before lockdown.

clarification Thu 16-Apr-20 15:27:03

I realise that titchy, but it’s still a reasonable question.

Yes the grade boundaries are there relative, but some students will be far more adversely affected than others. Not to mention, those who might develop mental health issues over this next term.

Also nobody can give certainty that the 2021 cohort will be “just fine.” If this system of “teacher assessment” for this summer results in a lot of students being unhappy with the grades awarded, then they can retake in October - whether this would be for a deferred place or they would need to reapply doesn’t seem clear as yet? Of course, this is absolutely fair enough in the circumstances, but could also have the impact of far less uni places for the current year 12s.

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DeathByBoredom Thu 16-Apr-20 15:34:07

Nothing has been announced about schools, that's why we don't know how it will work. Maybe just primary, maybe just part of primary? I personally don't think all secondary will go back but I am hopeful they do years 10 and 12, possibly also 7. As I said, fingers crossed.
It won't be the only factor affecting chances at University though. I'm wondering if the government will be able to afford all those student loans - we might see caps on student places, depends how fucked our economy is by then.

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titchy Thu 16-Apr-20 15:47:41

some students will be far more adversely affected than others. Not to mention, those who might develop mental health issues over this next term.

That's always the case with any cohort. Some will have MH issues, some will be educated in classes of 15, others by non-specialists in classes of 40. Health, including MH can be mitigated against through the usual channels anyway. The point is this is something that affects the whole cohort, and will therefore be reflected in grade boundaries.

October retakes would mean the student would have to reapply - the timings just wouldn't work any other way, unless lockdown continues through the Autumn and results in a deferred 20/21 start (and then all bets are off what the resulting HE system would look like - this is nightmare stuff).

What is clear is that universities will be desperate for students next year and the year after. Whether they will be able to recruit the numbers they need to survive remains to be seen, but it'll be a buyers market so your year 12s will be fine, particularly with plummeting grade boundaries.

Newgirls Thu 16-Apr-20 16:58:08

I think schools will really focus on the pre exam years and will be doing their absolute best so they will catch up

clarification Thu 16-Apr-20 17:05:36

I hope you’re right titchy. Why are unis going to be desperate for students though? I would hope teacher assessments for this year should give students the benefit of the doubt, so possibly slightly more will get their required grades than usual, maybe causing a bulge year if anything as less students a whittled out via exams. I realise some international students may not come, but that remains to be seen.

I accept you point about MH problems being inevitable for some anyway, but 3-4 months online schooling during which time students are also in lockdown, is an unprecedented situation to the normal pressures students are under.

Also, obviously education standards in schools will also vary enormously, but there is nevertheless, even at the most basic level, definitely something to be said for physically having to turn up to a place of learning. I doubt any school would allow even its most disengaged students to sleep through the day, which is what I imagine may be the reality for many who will supposedly be doing online school. Some students will not even have access to computers. They might be isolated in a tower block for months - either asleep or on the X-box, with parents who don’t give a damn. Or they might be trying to study amidst domestic violence at home? Maybe there’s no food in the house, or they’re cooped up with toddlers all day? At least the physical fact of being in school mitigates against inequalities to some extent and this is the difference.

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clarification Thu 16-Apr-20 17:10:21

Sorry posted to soon .... What I meant is that the impact of social deprivation versus social / educational privilege will be far more marked when the home environment becomes the learning environment as well.

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sadpapercourtesan Thu 16-Apr-20 17:13:20

My Y12 is in a real state about this. He has struggled with some pretty heavy mental health problems over the past couple of years and bombed his mocks for his AS levels, just before the college closed. He's highly able despite his mental health instability (ASD, perfectionist, bullied at school etc) and had high hopes - he has a very definite life plan and needs to get into one of two specific universities. He's working his arse off in lockdown and is capable of top grades in everything, but his crappy mocks (he failed one entirely, went to pieces and cried all the way through the exam) mean that he won't even get considered by those universities. He could throw everything at the actual A Levels, get the grade he's capable of, then take a gap year and apply with his results, but he hates the idea of delaying university by a year and feeling at a loose end. I don't know what to say to him sad

titchy Thu 16-Apr-20 17:28:32

Why are unis going to be desperate for students though?

Loss of international students. Numbers cap limiting home recruitment. Cost of suddenly providing online teaching and working. Loss of rental income from halls in term 3.

What I meant is that the impact of social deprivation versus social / educational privilege will be far more marked when the home environment becomes the learning environment as well.

Yes I know lockdown is far more difficult for some kids than others - even with normal circumstances studying a levels is far more difficult for some, and in those cases the school reference should reflect the student's individual difficulty so the university can make a contextual offer.

Newgirls Thu 16-Apr-20 17:44:13

Sandpaper - that sounds really tough x well done him on studying now

clarification Thu 16-Apr-20 17:45:19

sadpaper - Sorry to hear about your DS, but surely his predicted grades won’t only be based on the AS level mocks? Most courses don’t even do AS level mocks. Hopefully they’ll look at the overall picture and take his mental health problems into account.
My DS is also in Year 12 and was due to have exams next week, but these have been cancelled obviously. Instead they’ll be doing shorter online assessments. I doN’t think they’ll be able to set so much store on these though as it’s possible for some students to have help, or even get someone to do it for them. But these exams were only ever meant to be one component in the overall assessment for predicted grades. They look at the whole picture and also factor in a “lift” prior to the real exams. They know mocks and the real thing are two very different matters for many students and they say that the whole point of mocks is to get your mistakes out of the way (hopefully) and highlight the areas they need to focus on.

Has he actually had his predicted grades already? Mine doesn’t get his until June.

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caringcarer Thu 16-Apr-20 17:51:53

Exam grades for A Level are largely awarded following the Gaucian curve. This means the same percentage of students will be awarded A* as usual, the same goes for all other grades also.

clarification Thu 16-Apr-20 17:55:21

titchy - the reduction in foreign students will hit some unis more than others. Probably London ones such as LSE will be hit hardest where I think there’s 60% from overseas?

Even though centres will be moderated, I would still expect far more students this summer will hit the requirements of the conditional offers because schools will want to give their students the benefit of the doubt where at all possible. Why would they not?

So if a school’s A-level results range between say 75% A*-A in a “very good” year to 55% in a not so good year, you can bet your boots that this will be one of the “very good” if not “exceptional” or even “record breaking” years for that school because who would be able to prove it wouldn’t have otherwise been so? And if unis need the students, well, there’s even less incentive for schools to be moderated down.

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Devlesko Thu 16-Apr-20 17:55:38

it's not ideal but surely this is the time for them to become familiar with the marking scheme, practising essay writing, looking at examples of different levels achieved, what examiners look for etc.
They can revise what they have learned so far and move forward to the next topic. Everything is online, including free resources for every subject.

DeathByBoredom Thu 16-Apr-20 18:04:07

Yes that sounds very lovely
The reality in our house is we have two computers, two full time working from home adults and three teenage children. There is no online schedule that allows for everyone to access the internet all the time. Plus my eldest has had to get a job anyway and they are so busy he is now working full time hours. He's in a keyworker area and is doing his part to help others stay at home, as he is much less likely to become ill. It's also good for his future uni application but not so great for the here and now. There will be a lot of older teens looking after younger siblings now parents are working from home. Some with no.computers at all. Yes, overall grades might follow boundaries but the class divide in results will be more noticeable if home schooling continues. Ditto marks this year as well.

noblegiraffe Thu 16-Apr-20 18:12:46

Not ideal obviously, but teenagers can do reading and watch videos on their phones.

DeathByBoredom Thu 16-Apr-20 18:24:04

Yes and he is still doing pretty well but in all honesty we are fairly privileged compared to some, and we are struggling with computer access/online learning. It is definitely not a level playing field - I dread to think what it is like for some young people.

titchy Thu 16-Apr-20 18:59:45

Even though centres will be moderated, I would still expect far more students this summer will hit the requirements of the conditional offers because schools will want to give their students the benefit of the doubt where at all possible. Why would they not?

Which is why this year results will be moderated to within an inch of their life to those expected for the cohort.

So a school who gives its students the benefit of the doubt and awards an extra 10 A grades in Maths will find those As are moderated down to Bs.

Exam boards know what the expected grade profile of the cohort and school will be. Any school that argues this cohort is exceptional will have to demonstrate that - and don't forget exam boards have individual students GCSE grades.

All universities have international students - don't forget from 21/22 that will include EU as well, although some more than others true. But no university can afford any loss of fee income from anywhere in the current climate, they really can't.

VerbenaGirl Thu 16-Apr-20 19:06:27

My DDs school are having staff meetings over the Easter break to develop a strategy for Y10 and Y12. However, the whole cohort are in the same situation, so universities will automatically end up tweaking their requirements if their courses don’t fill on the usual grades. I don’t think it will end up being too much of an issue.

GreenTulips Thu 16-Apr-20 19:12:59

I’m more concerned about this years uni intake deferring for a year making it more difficult next year.

I agree on international students not coming who wants there kid in another country at the moment? Boarders may not even be open.

Thousands of new kids mixing in a new campus come September? Not sure I’d risk it.

Gwynfluff Thu 16-Apr-20 19:18:37

I would say, on balance, my Y12 dc (state school, already got mental health difficulties) is managing their learning best at the moment. The state school are taking a minimal approach , so the younger 2 are not really getting the direction they need with more complex areas. Older one is used to having the teacher present information and then being sent off to synthesise and also expand on it in an essay. They are missing the group discussions of concepts but otherwise ploughing on.

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