Heavy snowfalls threw A-levels and GCSEs into chaos after thousands of schools closed on one of the busiest days of the academic year. More than 100,000 teenagers were due to take exams in key subjects yesterday but some found themselves snowbound after freezing conditions made journeys treacherous and paralysed school bus services. This is from the Daily Mail…
Many pupils lost out on a chance to sit the papers – potentially affecting their university chances – after exam boards insisted that rescheduling them due to snow was ‘not an option’.
Across England and Wales, more than 3,000 schools closed or closed early, forcing parents to find last-minute childcare.
Most managed to stay open with skeleton staff for exam candidates – who were mainly taking English and maths AS-level papers – but schools and colleges in the worst-hit areas were forced to shut completely and cancel exam sittings.
Pupils who missed exams will be able to sit them again in summer or, in some cases, ask examiners to calculate their final grades on the basis of coursework and units already taken.
Many teenagers spent the night before the exam in hotels or at friends’ homes near their schools; one drove through the snow on a quad bike to get to an exam on time.
But there was fury yesterday after some schools closed even though barely a smattering of snow had fallen in their areas.
Parents vented their rage on Twitter, with one complaining: ‘School closed – there is nothing more than a dusting of snow. Absolutely ridiculous! [My son] has a day in the office to look forward to then!’
A mother from Hertfordshire wrote: ‘School closed for “expected” bad weather. All others in Stevenage open (incl juniors on same site) – ridiculous risk averse decision.’
Pupils were happier, however. One declared: ‘Hardly any snow in Lyme and school is closed! Woooo’
Vast swathes of the country were affected by closures, with an estimated 1,200 schools shut in Wales alone.
There were more than 500 closures in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and 300 in Norfolk. A further 300 were closed in Gloucestershire.
In Bristol, a teaching assistant scrambled a 4×4 from St John’s Ambulance to help two pupils with medical conditions to get into school on time for crucial A-level exams.
Karen Brooks, who works at St Mary Redcliffe andd Temple School and is a qualified first aider, drove through the snow to pick up the pupils and ferry them to school.
In Taunton, King’s College arranged emergency overnight boarding at the school for pupils who faced difficult journeys to get to exams the next morning.
Head teacher Richard Biggs said: ‘The boards will not allow an exam to be taken at any other time in this particular season and if your son or daughter misses an exam they will have to wait until the summer to have another go at it.’
Advice from exam boards to schools on severe weather makes clear that ‘rescheduling examinations is not an option due to the consequences this would have across the system’.
Pupils who were not taking final exams would have another chance to take the unit during the summer exam series, it says.
But these pupils will miss the opportunity to split their GCSE or A-level papers into two sittings – winter and summer – and instead have to take more of their papers in one go.
They would lose out on a chance to improve their marks by resitting the papers compared with candidates unaffected by snow and ice.
If pupils were expecting to finish sitting their units examination this January, and missed an exam, they can apply for ‘special consideration’ where a final grade is calculated on work already completed.