Hartlepool headteacher calls on Government for urgent GCSE exams plan and Covid costs payments

A Hartlepool headteacher is requesting urgent Government guidance and support for schools for Covid related challenges as part of a national campaign.

Monday, 16th November 2020, 7:00 am

High Tunstall College of Science head Mark Tilling is backing the Worth Less? campaign which raises major concerns about leadership and alleged failings of the Department for Education during the pandemic.

Mr Tilling, and the campaign, is calling for contingency plans for next year’s GCSE and A-levels exams to be published urgently.

Heads are also asking for the Government to fully reimburse schools for Covid-related expenses including PPE and additional staff costs due to those self isolating.

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High Tunstall College of Science headteacher Mark Tilling. Picture by FRANK REID

Mr Tilling said GCSE students have been given just three extra weeks to make up for six months of lost school time while Wales and Scotland have cancelled their exams.

He said: “The biggest issue for us is to have a clear contingency plan for young people taking GCSEs and A-levels this year.

"There has been too much lost learning and a lack of strategic direction from the Government.

"Just three weeks more teaching does not compensate for the damage and gap they have had from being in national lockdown and any others.”

He added: “The costs of Covid are extraordinary in all schools and we need to have that reimbursed.”

Mr Tilling said the Government had also reneged on its allocation of laptop computers for disadvantaged pupils to learn remotely during lockdowns or while self isolating by 80%.

He praised support from Hartlepool Borough Council but said the Government needed to do more.

"This is about what’s right for all young people,” said Mr Tilling. “All teachers in the town are working extraordinarily hard to help children catch up and do what we need to do to keep education open.”

The Department for Education said the government has made it a priority to get all pupils back into full-time school.

A spokesman said: “On average, costs to schools to become Covid-secure will have been a relatively small proportion of their core funding for each pupil, which for secondary schools has increased to a minimum of £5,150, the first year of the biggest increase to core school funding in a decade.”

It added it has launched an additional £1 billion Covid catch up fund for schools to support children who need it.

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