A testing time for private examination candidates

2020 has been a year of uncertainty, not least for the educational sector. Recent political twists and turns have seen A levels and GCSEs in England due to go ahead next summer, with the exam season starting three weeks later than usual in the wake of COVID-19. Wales and Scotland have already announced the replacement of the end-of-year examinations with assessments.

Away from media focus and public eye are the consequences that cancellation of exams have for private examination candidates. These are students who have chosen to follow alternative routes of education, including home-schooled pupils, self-taught mature students or those studying with private tutors.

This year, with public examinations in the U.K., cancelled and replaced with grades based on school and college internal assessments these students had no possibility of obtaining their exam grades – potentially dashing their university admission hopes for at least another year.

When this happens, candidates find themselves in an unparalleled limbo. With this year’s experience under our belt, Greene’s is continuing to support all of our candidates by providing certainty in these uncertain times.

For nearly 50 years, Greene’s Examination Centre has welcomed a large number of private candidates to take their exams with us. These are students who are completing much of their studies by themselves and come to Greene’s for additional individualised tutorial support.

Following our guiding principle of always putting the interests of our students at the heart of everything we do, we decided to work together with the exam boards and develop the systems and procedures that would allow these external examination candidates to obtain their grades.

Greene’s was among only a few examination centres which have been approved by the JCQ to carry out these assessments.

Thanks to our dedicated team at Greene’s, a 24/7 operation was launched.

Tutors worked tirelessly around the clock over four long weeks through June and July to provide students with the results they needed to fulfil the next stage of their academic ambitions.

With the assessment system being entirely online, Greene’s tutors examined over 200 students from destinations around the world, including the U.K. and other european countries, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Thailand.

The assessments, consisting of assessment tutorials, trial exams and a review of candidates past work, were carried out across different time zones and in numerous subjects.

The year 2020 has proved to be one of the most transformational years of education. Schools, students and parents have faced global challenges when making plans for the current academic year accelerating the move towards online teaching.

With that in mind, Greene’s systems are ready and prepared once again to welcome public examination candidates who might otherwise be left stranded without the grades they need to embark onto the next steps of their educational journey in 2021.

It is probably true that further education and university preparation will never entirely be the same again. One thing the last few months have taught us is how successful online learning and assessment can be, as part of a planned academic structure.

In addition to online tutorials, Greene’s continues to provide academic direction, supervision and pastoral support through a blended mix of face-to-face and online learning.

Dr Agnieszka Balicka, Head of Student Recruitment, commented, “It has been both a very fulfilling and challenging experience. To help well over 200 exam candidates from all around the world achieve their GCSE or A level grades and continue their education without further disturbance, was an absolute privilege”.

Article last updated:April 16, 2021