AccessHE statement on awarding of A-Levels, BTecs and GCSEs

August 25, 2020

AccessHE welcomes the government’s recent decision to revert to Centre Assessed Grades in the awarding of A-Levels, BTecs and GCSEs this year. We note with concern however that many school and college leavers in London intending to commence a higher education course this autumn do not yet have a confirmed place. AccessHE and its members are doing everything we can to support students, including concerted cross-sector action where required to prevent a widening of existing educational inequalities.

London remains an attractive and covid-secure place to study. However, increased demand for places has created a genuine risk that some school and college leavers will miss out on the chance to pursue HE. AccessHE is engaging with London schools to best understand the needs and concerns of individual pupils, particularly those facing socio-economic or other forms of disadvantage, to ensure their voices are heard at the current time. In parallel, we are promoting events and resources available locally to London learners who are concerned about their post-secondary options.

It is not yet clear how learners who elect to re-sit examinations in Autumn will be supported to prepare for these. It is however critical that support is available, especially for learners facing barriers to independent, home-based study. These learners must also be guaranteed free travel in London so as not to be excluded from learning opportunities and academic support available outside of their immediate local area.

For pupils due to return to school or college, preexisting inequalities must not be allowed to further widen as a result of the near six-month educational deficit. HE access and participation work must now focus efforts on learners entering transitional years, who require urgent support with their post-secondary choices. Our newly-launched website, AccessHE Online, provides this in the form of interactive short courses, advice and guidance and other digital resources that have been developed together with our HE members, ensuring that prospective students can continue to explore HE in London even when physical opportunities to do so remain limited.

London’s diverse mix of HE providers are a significant driver of social justice and AccessHE is committed to ensuring all learners, irrespective of background, can continue to benefit from this unique regional HE cluster.