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BBC cameras visit Stalybridge school

Copley Academy Principal Ruth Craven being interviewed.

The BBC cameras visited Copley Academy in Stalybridge on Thursday (30 September) as part of their news coverage.

BBC Education correspondent Elaine Dunkley was welcomed into the Huddersfield Road secondary school to capture reaction to the government's latest announcement that GCSE and A-Level grades in England will be returned to pre-Covid levels over the next two years.

The BBC team took a tour of the school and talked to a range of students to gain an insight into these modifications, which aim to protect students against lost learning due to the pandemic.

Ministers say exams will happen but the option of teacher-assessed grades will be kept in reserve.

Year 11 student Shannon said: “I’m excited that we are doing exams because I really want it to just be as normal as it can be - but it is scary and I’m very nervous about it”. 

They then caught up with Principal Ruth Craven to get her reaction on the government’s statement.

She said: It’s always a pleasure to welcome correspondents from the BBC education team into Copley Academy. 

“It’s positive that there has been a consultation and the views of education professionals, parents and students have been considered. It will be interesting to see the finer detail regarding the grading system. It is essential that the differential impact is taken into account as areas such as Greater Manchester and the North West have been significantly hit by high transmission rates, impacting on student and staff attendance. 

“It is vital that there is equity across the country too and the students in the areas impacted the most by the Covid-19 pandemic are not at detriment compared to students in areas that have been less affected. 

“The advanced information will be supportive and provide students with confidence in carrying out examinations but it’s also important that we maintain the systems we had in place last year such as regular formal internal assessments and collating evidence of students work so that if we need to resort to teacher-assessed grades we can quickly adapt and ensure we have the evidence that reflects the grades that our students deserve." 

The principal went on: “We can now concentrate on implementing adapted curriculum plans to ensure our students are fully prepared for the summer exams. I hope this will ease some of the anxiety for students and we can't forget that these are still unsettling times for our current Y11 students. As well as a clear plan for exam preparation, students need the emotional support and strategies to support their wellbeing over the coming academic year. 

“It is encouraging that the government are committed to the additional Educational Recovery Fund and we need to recognise that this is not a quick fix. Colleagues are seeing some children are behind in their development and learning right from early year and reception age children. Together as leaders we need to have a long-term plan to accelerate the progress of our students in terms of their learning and their social development and that this continued to be a priority for future additional funding”.

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