Schools hit by storm Desmond and Eva will not get automatic exemption, says JCQ

Schools hit by storm Desmond and Eva will not get automatic exemption, says JCQ

Schools whose pupils have had coursework and classrooms ruined by flooding will not automatically be granted deadline extensions or grade adjustments, it has been revealed.

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents several of England’s largest exam boards, has confirmed that schools must apply for special dispensation from each board responsible for each subject affected, meaning schools face making several applications per pupil.

Schools across Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire and other parts of the north of England are continuing to clear and dry out their facilities and file insurance claims following flooding caused by storms Desmond and Eva.

At Newman Catholic School in Carlisle, the floods have left school and church leaders unsure if pupils will ever return to the school site.

Pupils are currently learning in temporary classrooms on the site of the former Pennine Way Primary School in Harraby.

Father Michael Docherty, the assistant head of education at the Diocese of Lancaster, told Schools Week the support received from the Department for Education (DfE) and council bosses had been superb.

He said: “Nicky Morgan visited Newman School a couple of weeks ago and it was a very fruitful meeting. A Newman strategy group was set up by the Bishop of Lancaster and has met frequently to discuss current provision and the future restoration of the Newman community.

“Negotiations over money are sensitive but the DfE have been very supportive.”

At Burnley Road Academy in Mytholmroyd near Hebden Bridge, parents say industrial dehumidifiers have been installed following the removal of water-damaged floors and plaster, and will need to remain in place for at least a month.

Pupils are split across two other schools’ sites in the area.

Hayley Morgan, a member of the school’s parents, teachers and friends association, said: “We suspect we won’t be returning to school until the new academic year, although if they are able to move some children back in stages, they may do this.”

A JCQ spokesperson told Schools Week that “established procedures” were in place to deal with such incidents and to “ensure that students are not disadvantaged” in their final exam grades.

She said: “Where a school feels its students have been disadvantaged they should contact the awarding bodies directly who will assess the situation on a case by case basis.”

If the schools are unable to return to their original accommodation, arrangements will be made in collaboration with exam boards to ensure pupils can sit exams elsewhere.

The DfE said it expected the cost of repairs to be met swiftly by schools’ insurance companies, while improved flood defences were a matter for councils.