August has always been an anxious month for students waiting for the results of public examinations like A levels, GCSEs and B-TECs. I still remember the feeling going into school to collect my grades. It’s not just a matter of personal pride to see the work that has been put in over the previous years rewarded, but the results can also be important in determining the next steps the candidates will take in their education and or career.
As a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, this year no public exams have been held and the decision was made by the government, working with exams regulator Ofqual, that students should be awarded their exam certificates based on an estimation of how they would probably have done. The clearest available guide to the likely results would usually be the results of mock exams, usually taken at the start of the calendar year, as well as the grades predicted by the student’s teachers. This should have been the approach taken in this exceptional year in order to determine what grades should have been awarded. It was always going to be impossible to tell an exam candidate that they will be given grades below what they achieved in their mocks, and lower than that predicted for them by their teachers, on the basis of a calculation made by a computer, which is also taking into account other, possibly completely irrelevant factors. I was pleased to see that the Secretary of State for Education has now agreed that all students will now receive the grades they were predicted. I hope that this allows each of them to take up places they had been offered for courses starting this autumn. If despite this change in policy, you or someone you know, is unable to take their place please let me know and I will do all I can to help.
It’s been great to see so many local restaurants and cafes this month busy on Mondays to Wednesdays with customers taking advantage of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. In the last week I've enjoyed going with my family to the Five Bells at Brabourne, and Luben's in Folkestone. This scheme gives diners 50% off their bill, up to a maximum of £10 per diner, for food and soft drinks. A large number of businesses across the district are taking part and you can find a list of these online at the gov.uk website.
This week I’ll be taking part in an online education session organised by the Invicta Summer Academy. This excellent initiative has been led by local school teacher Stephen James and Cllr Anna Firth, and provides free online catch up lessons for children who have seen their education disrupted by the coronavirus lockdown. You can find out more about this at their website invictaacademy.com, including how to book places for lessons. It was also good earlier this week to catch up with Wayne Beech, the head teacher of Martello Primary in Folkestone, and to hear about their plans to re-open the school in September. It's so important that we do all we can to make sure that all schools re-open fully for the start of the new term.