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The education policy team aim to keep this page updated weekly with latest news from government departments, awarding bodies, and those responsible for regulating education across the UK. This guidance is intended for teachers and technicians of 5 - 19 biology in schools, but may also be of use to those in the higher education sector and others involved in education.

The Royal Society of Biology has produced a page collating advice for students and parents to supplement remote learning during partial school closures. The Society also advises school leaders and teachers consider the questions in Education Endowment Foundation's Linking Learning resource - home learning support from mainstream schools.

The announcements below have been collected under three headings:

Reopening of schools

Department for Education guidance on actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak, and guidance for opening of schools. Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools and other educational settings is also provided. Guidance for parents and carers about schools and other education settings. Separate guidance has been published for specialist settings supporting children with SEND, further education and early years.

Northern Ireland: Latest education updates. Statement on alternative awarding arrangements for summer 2021 published on 2 February 2021.

Scotland: Updated schools’ guidance. Guidance for teachers and families to support remote learning in schools has been published by Education Scotland.

On 8th December 2020 SQA announced the Higher and Advanced Higher 2021 exams are to be replaced.

Wales: Latest education updates from the Welsh Government. Latest information on examinations and assessments, including A levels.

BAMEed: guidance for schools produced in line with NHS staff guidance, including a risk assessment for BAME staff returning to work in schools.

Exam cancellations across the UK

Exams are now cancelled across all four nations, with all nations appearing to pursue a similar approach with teachers providing centre assessment and the possibility of exam boards providing assessments to be used in school as evidence toward the final grade. Further details for each nation to be confirmed.

England: Ofqual’s Chief Regulator, Simon Lebus, confirms that GCSEs and A levels will be awarded this year by teacher assessment based on what has been taught this year. Exam boards will provide guidance and assessment materials before the Easter holidays to assist teachers in this process. (25 February 2021)

Ofqual has published a Student guide to awarding: summer 2021. (10 May 2021)

Northern Ireland: Education Minister, Peter Weir, made a statement outlining arrangements for CCEA qualifications in the absence of examinations (2 February 2021)

Two additional days will be set aside for teachers to work on centre assessments for GCSEs, A Levels and other qualifications. (8 March 2021)

Scotland: SQA is publishing subject level guidance this month and the National Qualifications Group 2021 have confirmed a timeline for alternative certification (16 February 2021)

SQA have published additional resources for understanding standards in Higher Biology, Higher Human Biology and Advanced Higher Biology.

Wales: Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, made a statement outlining arrangements for WJEC qualifications in the absence of examinations (26 January 2021)

2021 Summer assessment arrangements and exam board updates:

AQA - 2021 exam changes.

CCEA - Summer 2021 assessment arrangements
CCEA GCSE Biology, Summer 2021 - Following the cancellation of examinations, information is available on the alternative awarding arrangements for Summer 2021. Specification and Summer 2021 Subject Guidance.
CCEA Post-16 Qualifications information.

OCR - Everything you need to know for summer 2021.

Pearson (Edexcel) - Summer 2021 support.

SQA - Qualifications 2021 news from SQA. 

WJEC - Summer 2021 support.

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Practical activities at home and as schools reopen

CLEAPSS have provided advice for practical activities for pupils attending secondary school during periods of extended closure and guidance for science departments returning to school after a period of closure.

SSERC (Scotland) have some home learning resources on their website.

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Resources for remote learning

Updates from DfE and regulating bodies for teachers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales:

Department for Education (England) have collated a set of online education resources for schools and parents to help children learn at home, including maths and science. General guidance and advice for staff, parents and carers, pupils and students can be found in this collection. School or college level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams will not be published in 2020.

A package of support including additional funding has been announced to help schools and parents.
Actions for schools in England during the coronavirus outbreak
Department of Education (Northern Ireland) have published FAQs for schools, and will be updating this page with information as further details are announced.

Education Scotland are working to support practitioners while schools are closed. The National Improvement Hub now has support for developing online opportunities for remote learning including early learning, the sciences, and staff health and wellbeing.

The Welsh Government has information online on education and Stay Safe. Stay Learning: supporting the education system. With resources available from the national learning platform, Hwb.

Ofqual has published a news story about the recent consultation on new statutory guidance for appeals; equalities analysis; the decisions following the recent consultation on an additional GCSE, AS and A level exam series in autumn 2020 in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; and research about the impact of coursework on different students.

Ofqual have confirmed that exam boards will offer exams in all GCSE and A level subjects in autumn 2021, with no adaptations to the exams.

Joint Qualifications Council (JCQ) has published grade descriptors for all subjects for GCSE (Combined Science and Biology pages 64 - 65) and A Level (Biology page 19), along with worked examples for determining grades in 2021.

OCR has published grading FAQs for science GCSE and A-levels for Summer 2021.

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