At their next meeting on Wednesday 16 December, cabinet members will be asked to approve a report proposing extra measures to help strengthen the support offered to Barnsley’s young people who will be sitting their GCSE and A-Level exams in the summer of 2021.
Pupils currently in years 11 and 13 will be expected to sit GCSE and A-Level/Level 3 assessments next summer. The exam schedule has been delayed compared to previous years, to provide additional time to prepare, and schools and colleges have numerous measures in place to provide further help to these pupils. This includes one-to-one support, extra lessons before and after school, remote learning to enhance what’s happening in school and making sure pupil progress is closely tracked and monitored.
After consulting with local schools and further education leaders, Barnsley Council has proposed five key measures to provide additional support to pupils in years 11 and 13:
- Improved access to facilitated study spaces. This will provide young people with an environment with access to the internet and IT equipment, healthy foods, mindfulness and meditation activities and emotional wellbeing information and advice provided by trained staff. These will be dedicated spaces within libraries, family centres, community resource centres and IKIC centres.
- Improved access to technology, by providing devices and 4G connectivity to pupils who need it.
- Partnering with Sheffield Hallam University to implement the GROW student mentoring programme for year 11 pupils and develop and implement a programme for year 13 students.
- Additional Targeted Information, Advice and Guidance (TIAG), focusing on mental health and resilience. This will be in the form of TIAG advisors who will work directly with young people, utilising existing school staff for home visits, and an online ‘good study’ guide for young people and their parents and carers.
- A ‘Support for Learning’ programme manager, to co-ordinate and implement programmes of support to schools and colleges.
Pupils in years 11 and 13 have already experienced significant disruption to their education during the 2019/20 academic year, and this continues in 2020/21, due to bubble closures resulting from Covid-19 positive case(s). However, this has been well managed in Barnsley and the strong arrangements that are in place will make sure Barnsley’s young people are not further disadvantaged as a result of the disruption to their learning, and that every student has the resources and the support they need to prepare for their exams and look after their wellbeing.
Cllr Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Services, said: “This year has been incredibly tough for all our children and young people, but we’ve heard great stories from local schools saying how determined and motivated pupils are to do well in their exams. Our schools and college have put in place a range of measures and support for all Year 11 and 13 students, to ensure that they have the best chance in their exams and to ensure that Barnsley young people succeed.
“Together with our schools and college we have a shared ambition and commitment for every child to be able to achieve their potential and receive the qualifications they need to take their next steps in life. We also want to make sure that our young people have the skills to look after their mental health and wellbeing. I want to thank all the young people and school staff for their hard work this year, as well as parents and carers for supporting them."