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St Dominic's on BBC Newsnight

On Tuesday 10th November, St Dominic's Sixth Form College were delighted to host a team from BBC2 Newsnight (a video of the programme can be viewed by clicking here).

Jeea Chadha, Head Girl at St Dominic's writes..........we, the Student Executive Team, were very privileged to be interviewed by Lewis Goodall from BBC News regarding the announcement on Tuesday morning of the cancellation of A Level and GCSE exams in Wales next summer.  This was a very good opportunity for us to express our views, explaining how we believe it is more beneficial if the exams do proceed as they provide students with certainty in these unprecedented and very stressful times.

On the 10th of November, the BBC Newsnight team came to our College to interview both the Student Executive Team and our Principal, Andrew Parkin.  The views of English Sixth Form students around the country need to be considered and we were privileged to have such an opportunity to voice our concerns on national television.  Around 2 O’clock Andrew sprung the news upon us, to everyone’s surprise, that the BBC were on their way and shortly after the initial murmurings of panic and shock, we as a team came together to individually voice our opinions on exams and the possible cancellation of them in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  After an hour or so of discussion we agreed on a stance and defined a brief outline of what we would say.  Shortly after that Lewis Goodall, the Policy Editor for BBC Newsnight, arrived.  He immediately put us at ease and had a brief conversation with us as we headed to the Library for the interview.

For the students, here at St Dominic’s, sitting our A Levels next year is very important.  In fact, it would be one of our only certainties in these tumultuous times.  Although exams are not any student’s favourite past time, there are many advantages to having them.  For example, exams would be the only way to create a level playing field amongst all students who have seen their education suffer because of Covid-19.  We must remember that CAGs are measured differently at different schools and colleges, and so they are not comparable as a holistic view of what we have achieved through the two years of our A Level courses.

By contrast, exams are centrally planned and decided, with the same modus operandi. Although some have missed out on more education than others, the solution is not simply to cancel all exams, rather we should be looking at solutions such as cutting down exam content and offering a wider choice of questions to answer and possibly lengthening the papers without increasing the amount of questions. 

We must remember that although we aim for fairness, by cancelling exams, this will ensure that our two rounds of mocks in December and March would become our real A Level grades, wherein any other case, these would have been two sets of learning experiences. It is not fair to have these learning experiences taken away from us.  Furthermore, looking into the future, is the rhetoric that there "we have to make mistakes in order to learn from them" something we should be teaching our future generations?  Mistakes made in Mock Examinations are common and students, along with their teachers, have to make corrections to ensure they understand the topic better in readiness for the real exams in the summer. 

Exams are needed and they are important.  Adaptations can and should be made to them, but we shouldn’t just give up and scrap them completely.  I believe this is a sentiment felt by most of the students and staff at St Dominic’s. 

Thanks to Andrew for giving us this great opportunity!

Jeea Chadha - Head Girl (On behalf of the Student Executive Team)