During these difficult and uncertain times, we want everyone to be assured that we are doing everything we can to keep things as normal as possible.

We understand there may be concerns for both current and future students, so here, parents/ carers/ guardians can find more information and guidance from the College during its temporary closure.

This page will be updated regularly as we are further informed by Government and/or if we have any further communications relevant for this page.

1. Free School Meals scam

    We have been made aware of an email scam that targets parents with offers of free school meals, sent by what looks like their Local Authority, attempting to access their bank accounts. Some colleges have been made aware of these emails – if you receive any email asking for bank details in exchange for free school meals, contact our Student Services team: student.services@abingdon-witney.ac.uk

    2. GCSE Entry Requirements for programmes

      For students who would have been sitting their GCSE examinations this summer:

      • We will treat their confirmed estimated grades as full GCSE grades in line with our entry criteria
      • We have courses at all levels and will ensure that students are placed on the right course for them
      • We always include an initial 'settling in period' where there is potential for students to move between levels if their initial enrolment is not quite right
      • Additional guidance from Ofqual and awarding organisations is expected by the end of this week (April 3rd) and this page will be updated to reflect any additional guidance.

      3. GCSE English and Maths Exam Grades

      For current College students due to be sitting their GCSE English and Maths exams this summer, we know that this is a very unsettling time for you. We have now received updated guidance from the Government on how GCSE grades will be determined and want to reassure you that we are doing all we can to ensure that grades awarded will be a fair reflection of what students would have achieved had they been able to sit the exams as originally planned. The full guidance can be accessed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/877842/Summer_2020_grades_for_GCSE_AS_A_level_EPQ_AEA_in_maths_-_guidance_for_teachers_students_parents.pdf

      Ofqual has asked schools and colleges to use their professional experience to make a fair and objective judgement of the GCSE grade they believe a student would have achieved had they sat their exams this year. We will take into account the full range of available evidence when we provide estimated grades for students including non-exam assessment; the results of homework assignments and mock exams; and any other records of student performance over the course of study. Ofqual will then follow a statistical standardisation process to ensure fairness across all providers and students in order to determine the final grade. Unfortunately, we are not permitted to share provisional grades with students or parents but please be assured that the final grades will have equal status to those awarded in previous years and will be treated in the same way by universities, colleges and employers.

      Ofqual has confirmed that results will be published on 20 August as originally intended.

      4. Vocational and Technical Qualification (VTQ) Grades

      We understand that this will be a very uncertain and unsettling time for our students and please be reassured that we are doing everything we can to ensure that our students taking vocational and technical qualifications are well supported and are given the best possible chance to achieve the results that they deserve.
      Ofqual has recently published additional guidance for Centres re. awarding qualifications and grades for students studying vocational and technical qualifications, for example, BTECs, City and Guild qualifications and functional skills. Please note that Ofqual is still waiting for results from its public consultation and therefore guidance is still subject to change.

      The landscape for VTQs is incredibly complex as these qualifications can serve many purposes. Ofqual has essentially asked all awarding organisations to categorise their VTQs into three ‘buckets’:

      Qualifications used for progression to further or higher education, for example BTEC Firsts, BTEC Nationals, City and Guilds Technicals and UAL qualifications

      Students are likely to receive calculated results where teachers identify the most likely grade/result that learners would have achieved had they been able to complete all of their assessments by Summer 2020. The fact that students taking these qualifications have already achieved a number of units which contribute to the final grade means that teachers and awarding organisations have access to a wealth of evidence about how well students have performed over the course of their studies. If students have any externally marked assessments outstanding it is likely that teachers will either submit a calculated grade (based on evidence available and previous performance) or that the awarding organisation will determine a calculated grade. The calculated grades will be subject to a moderation process by the awarding organisations.
      Ofqual has confirmed that results will be published on 13 August for level 3 qualifications and 20 August for level 2 qualifications.

      Qualifications which are used to signal occupational competence, e.g. construction, motor vehicle and hair and beauty courses

      Ofqual has advised that a calculated result approach may not be relevant because it would not be clear students possessed the skills required for the job, which could have health and safety – or other professional – implications. Ofqual is still working with awarding organisations to develop an alternative approach where possible which may include adapted assessments. We will update as soon as we have any more information.

      Qualifications with a mixed purpose, e.g functional skills

      There are a significant number of VTQs which serve several purposes. Ofqual is still working with awarding organisations to determine the most appropriate approach. It has already been confirmed that, where sufficient evidence is available, functional skills qualifications should be awarded using calculated results.

      We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available and if you have any concerns/questions about how specific qualifications will be awarded this summer, please speak to the relevant teacher in the first instance. It is still important that our students continue to access the online teaching and learning sessions and resources available to ensure that they are as well prepared as possible for the next step in their journey.

      5. Careers Guidance

      During these difficult times, we are offering unique access for current students to the eCLIPS service. This provides information on careers, university and more - head to our Careers Guidance page to learn more.

      "Lockdown": A film by Mollie Leivars

      Witney-based filmmaker and Gateway student at the College, Mollie Leivars, has made a short film from home about the effect that COVID-19 can have on the mental health of young people, whilst showing that we are not alone in our feelings about the situation and we all stand together in this fight against the virus.