City College Norwich shared their experiences, and images, of GCSE maths and English resits in February 2015, a stark reminder of the logistical challenge faced by many organisations in the education and training sector. The image below shows the scene at the Norfolk Showground on 10 February 2015, as they prepared for what may have been “the largest single GCSE exam sitting in Norfolk history” (Eastern Daily Press, 2015).
Jerry White, Deputy Principal at City College Norwich, anticipates his college will spend £50,000 on the logistics of GCSE maths and English in 2015. They hired the Norfolk Showground main hall because the college could not accommodate the 1,100 English and 900 maths mock exam students. They will do the same again for the main exams. All exams have to be sat at the same time on the same day unless the provider can isolate students which would be impossible. The college hired buses from college to take learners to the Showground, some starting at 6am. They arranged free catering for the learners and staff. They hired security staff to keep order and specially trained staff to become invigilators. They also bought calculators, protractors, tracing paper and all the other necessary equipment. Furthermore, all the exam papers will have to be posted for marking and kept securely.
This is typical of what is being faced by large FE colleges and that is without accommodating the 200 students who have special arrangements for exams – readers, scribes, extra time, etc. This job alone has fully occupied three members of staff for the entire year and they have still not yet completed all the necessary arrangements.
The enormity of this challenge is immense and will be typical for a lot of colleges. City College Norwich have some students who have sat the GCSE ten times before, because many schools in Norfolk entered them at every window with every exam board in year 10 and then in year 11 in the hope they would eventually pass! City College Norwich expect rising learner numbers to include a huge cohort of demotivated young people. The challenge is indeed great!