A TEACHER who has helped to change four schools across West Yorkshire has urged the Government to set out how next year’s exams will be graded, in an attempt to offer clarity to worried students across the district.

Adrian Kneeshaw, CEO and Headteacher of Carlton Academy Trust, spoke on a podcast alongside former cabinet minister Esther McVey, where he argued that there must be some form of consultation on exams which are due to be sat in 2021, given that GCSEs and A-levels are two-year courses.

Mr Kneeshaw, who also helped to improve the fortunes of Tracks Pupil Referral Unit in Shipley and University Academy Keighley, hopes that, by September, the virus will be controlled and schools can return to normal teaching, acknowledging that home learning experiences may have varied greatly for students.

He said: “It is accentuating the gap between the disadvantaged students and non-disadvantaged students. Not every family can afford a laptop for their child and some parents cannot speak English, or it is not their first language.

“We have two competing priorities, health and safety and education and social mobility of the students. It is a very difficult situation as they are competing priorities and are pretty much mutually exclusive. There are issues and I do empathise with Government in wrestling these two competing priorities, but I think over time it will be the priority of the education and social mobility and that will become more prevalent than the health and safety over a longer time.”

His views were echoed by Stuart Herdson, former teacher at Salt Grammar School in Shipley, and past president of the association of teachers and lecturers.

He said: “If you look at disadvantaged children, I have been speaking to parents and teachers and they are suffering and not doing the work at home. Part of the reason for that it is because the parents do not understand and it is very frustrating for some parents that they cannot help their children, as they do not understand how they are meant to teach it, and that is why we have teachers.”

Mr Herdson said if social distancing still needed to be in place come September, schools would have to adopt a phased approach, but the most important years must be the current years ten, 12 and year five in primary - all of which face exams next year.

Ms McVey said: “I cannot comprehend how we are allowing a generation of young people to go six months with minimal education and how can it be right that some children are getting six hours a day online learning, others one and some none. If pubs, cinemas, museums can open again and we can go on holiday, it is unacceptable that children would not be back in school."

Shipley MP Philip Davies also added: “Bradford has one of the worst levels of educational outcomes in the country and the longer pupils are not going to school, the gap between rich and poor will be entrenched. Not all families have access to a computer and home learning will have been a very different experience for children, based on their individual circumstances. I want every child to get the best possible education and that means being back in the classroom, and I made that clear when discussing the issue with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

“We all hope there will not be a second spike of the virus and come September usual learning will be resumed, but schools and Government need to prepare for all eventualities and have a plan in case social distancing is still in place or needs to be re-introduced, whether that be blended learning or separate year groups in at different times. We cannot have another situation where pupils are missing so much school.”