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Exams - coronavirus info for families of deaf children

Published Date: 07 Jan 2021

What’s happening with exams in 2021?

Exams for GCSEs and A-Levels in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, and National 5s and Highers in Scotland, have been cancelled.

What does cancelling exams mean for deaf young people?

Though the details are still being worked out, your child will be given a grade based on teacher assessments.

Ask your child or their school/college to find out what situations are going to be used for teacher assessments and what arrangements are in place to make sure they are accessible.

It's possible that teachers may use mock exam results as a guide. If so, it will be important that any mock exams were accessible to your child and that the appropriate adjustments were made. If this did not happen, we would expect teachers to take this into account in any final grades.

If your child has a Teacher of the Deaf, ask them if they are involved in discussions about making sure the teacher assessments are fair.

Can we challenge grades if we are not happy with them?

We are expecting the UK Governments to provide more information in the next few months on how young people will be able to appeal any grades.

If you challenge a result, good evidence will be required. It will take time to collect the evidence so do think about this in advance of the results and be proactive in collecting evidence. Questions to think about include:

  • What evidence the school/college has used to come up with grades?
  • Did the school/college seek and take on board a Teacher of the Deaf’s advice?
  • Were mock exams accessible to your child?
  • Did young people get the support they needed to complete any coursework?

Our helpline can provide further information and advice on this topic. 

I’m worried that my child has missed out on too much teaching and won’t now get the grades they deserve

Deaf young people might have missed out on more of their education compared with hearing young people because of remote learning being inaccessible or social distancing measures. Schools and colleges are expected to support young people to catch-up, and we expect them to seek advice from Teachers of the Deaf in this area. You or your child should ask your school and college about what extra support could be available to help catch up. Also, you can talk about this with your child’s Teacher of the Deaf if they have one.

Can my child repeat a year?

In light of the disruption to education this year, some deaf young people may be thinking about repeating a year, particularly if they’re concerned they will not get the exam results they deserve. Though we recognise this may not be an appealing option for many deaf young people, we believe that the UK Governments, local authorities and schools should ensure this option is available to deaf young people.

You should discuss this with your child’s school at the earliest possible opportunity to explore if and how this can be done. This may also be a chance to discuss other options for your child – for example, such as additional catch-up support or, if they are moving onto to further education, extra support in English and Maths next year.

What about other national assessments and tests?

In England, all national standard assessment tests (SATs) have also been cancelled.  

What about vocational qualifications?

There may be changes made to how vocational qualifications are assessed this year. These will vary depending on the qualification being taken. Reasonable adjustments must still made to make sure any assessment is accessible. If your child has had to take an assessment that has been adapted (e.g. put online), it should have been fully accessible. If not, please contact our helpline for further advice.