I write from UTC South Durham, a STEM-based school in the North East, in response to Ofqual’s recent announcement on assessment requirements. We have been told that students are expected to complete all units as in a normal year.

I spoke to a Year 11 student about this yesterday. Here are his thoughts:

Generation on mute

Two hundred and thirty-one days we have had reducing hope and no voice. Our generation is on mute. Nothing is dearer to us than our future; a future that is now unstable. We have been given something of a life-line – a three-week delay to exams. But does anyone really think that’s enough to steady our course?

Who is the head that decides our fate, my fate and the fate of many others? As far as I know, they are not just about to take the exams that are set to determine their future.

Who is the head that will listen to a generation who are drowning in anxiety? As far as I know, they have not felt the confusion and fear of missing six months of work only to be told you will sit in front of invigilators and take the exams with no regard to the trauma of this pandemic.

So please hear US, the generation who feel forgotten, our mouths taped shut as our future slips through our fingers. Please listen, because we are the future of this country, please listen because we are truly dealing with the toxic fallout of the choices of our education system.

You know me as Arron, but I am confident these are the words of an entire generation.

So, please do not tell me that a three-week delay is enough. Students are working hard, but, they have already lost so much education.

Please do not tell me that education continues just as well remotely. Students lack the opportunity to learn from their peers. My staff are brilliant, but they are stretched and exhausted.

Please do not tell me that it is affordable. I have a choice between breaking our budget on supply staff and imposing more remote education.

Please work with us to create a plan which will meet the needs of our young people, as they work through this extraordinary time in their lives.

Yours sincerely

Tom Dower

Principal, UTC South Durham