DfE tells schools study leave ‘may not be applicable’

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Schools are being given the freedom to choose whether or not to implement a period of independent study leave for Year 11 and 13 pupils after the May half-term.

Updated schools guidance states that as schools will submit exam grades by June 18, work done after the May half-term will not contribute towards their grades.

The Department for Education states that while schools usually incorporate study leave “this year the needs of the cohort will be different and a period of independent study leave may not be applicable.”

“Schools should make appropriate judgements on the activities for their own pupils. This might not mean full-time provision and could include visits to education providers, independent study or remote provision combined with attendance in person.”

But the government is not changing the legislation that governs compulsory schools age – which remains the last Friday of June in the year they turn 16.

“We know that this year, many schools will already have plans in place for the last half of the summer term to support their current pupils. We strongly encourage all schools to maximise opportunities that meet the progression needs of their students during this period”, the guidance adds.

Activities for schools to consider

The DfE advises schools “design and plan content to support pupils to embed curriculum content in which they are less secure”. This can be done remotely or independently and could include lessons from Oak National Academy, it states.

Elsewhere schools are advised to liaise with 16 to 19 providers “to support pupils’ transition to A level study or vocational technical qualifications”.

Again, this can occur in the classroom, remotely or independently.

The guidance adds schools should provide further education (FE) providers access to all year 11 pupils for “taster sessions” and to inform them of their options.

Schools should also provide support to students around their training and pastoral needs.

Specifically, the guidance states they should work with local authorities to agree how those at risk of becoming not in education, employment or training (NEET) can be referred for intensive support.

They should provide career advice and support the “mental health and wellbeing of all students progressing to further study or employment.”

The DfE also advises schools to support pupils preparing for work through working experience “so far as coronavirus restrictions apply”.


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  1. Yvonne Turner-Borg

    Our children have been through enough trying to get their GCSE’s. Working remotely. Do not take this last thing away from them, something they know full well would hzve been granted had we been in normal times.

    • Motivation has been low enough. Trying to get them through this last 6 weeks is going to be tough enough….. let alone keeping them until the end of June! They should have maybe an optional bridging the gap work a college or 6th form can provide but it shouldn’t be compulsory!

  2. Carol Preston

    They have been through a very difficult and uncertain time- 2 lockdowns, online lessons, indecisiveness over grades, ‘mini-assessments’ (not exams but exams really, just shorter and more frequent) so ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

    I also cannot bear the thought of the pressure schools and teachers will be under to provide ‘transitional’ work. They are not going to comply willingly which will inevitably lead to bad feeling at the end of their schooling when they should be saying goodbye with love and regret, kindly.

  3. Barry Mckockiner

    disgustin, u lot should be ashamed of yourselves have you not fort of the how the children may feel. My little one wants to kill himself. get em out NOW! I’ve had enough of this nonsense. #GavinWilliamsonHasToGo #Disgraceful

  4. Athena

    This is really dumb they should finish on June 18 since that’s when all work that is done has to be sent as we are going to have to wait 2 months for our results, we are stressed right now, going to be even more stressed while waiting for our results and then more stress will be added when we have to come to school after all work is sent because we still have to come to school and do more work!

  5. How stupid. Keep them in for essentially nothing. Bridging options should be available for those who feel that they need it, otherwise, let them be. Particularly year 13, all of those 18year olds have had so many experiences taken away from them because of covid. The last thing they deserve is some normality and a long summer with friends before they move away for uni ect.

  6. Debbie

    Utterly ludicrous , considering we only went into school for exams, once we started them in May & after the last one you left??? These assessments are just as hard, as sitting exams tbh. My son has had enough, his mental health is at rock bottom!! He already has a place at college sorted for September, he really doesn’t need to remain in school. What a complete waste of time!!!!
    He’s had a Saturday job for the last two years, I would rather he be allowed to finish at May half term. Then maybe he can do some extra days for his Sat job employer & at least be learning life skills at the same time?

  7. Sarah

    My daughter has worked very hard to keep her grades up and don’t brilliant and doing all these test she says all these test week after week is worse then exams has put her to rocky state she hates school and use love it going her metal Heath is suffering ,she has her college place all sorted and if school is aloud to keep them on longer then needed after all these test will be tipping point for meny year 11 that I know it’s have great in packets on meny ,let them leave as they leave every year let them rest and enjoy life for a while after all the hard work they have done to get where they are by all mean keep the option for those that want it and need it but don’t put stress on these youngest and false them they have suffered eough a need to have fun

  8. Surely schools are about more than just exams which are largely meaningless this year anyway. Schools are there to provide young people with an education and it is ludicrous that for year 11 and year 13 students school is over for this year (forever for year 13). Having already missed so much time in school due to Covid what bunch of clowns supposedly in charge of education decided that “I know, let’s just throw away another two months of school time and stop educating these students now”. Utterly appalling.

  9. Margaret

    My child loved school and now she can’t wait to leave. Her mental well-being is at rock bottom and schools, in my opinion, have not had the children’s interest/mental health at the top of their priority list.
    I appreciate it’s been very hard for all parties, I appreciate that not all schools will be working this way (bang goes the consistent approach) but to miss so much school and then undertake in excess of 20 exams in just over two weeks (yes exams) is extreme, and in most cases within the school the only evidence (exams) being considered for final marking are the ones taken during C19 Pandemic.
    If I put my child through these levels of mental stress, at home, I am sure the local authority would be quick to send around child welfare services.
    I see no benefit in keeping the children on at school after this week. The exams are finished and it will take the children some time to recover from their last 12 months experiences. Thank you

  10. Sophie

    I’m year 11 at the moment and it’s absolutely ridiculous that they’re keeping us so long. My school has gone to the extent as to where we won’t have study leave and we also can’t go home after exams and must be in school between exams. I’m so furious and fed up and annoyed. This doesn’t motivate, encourage or make us feel supported at all. 90% of us just want to hurry up and do exams and leave. We have finished learning everything at this point and there is absolutely no reason to be in school anymore. People are bored. I’ve learnt absolutely nothing for the past month at school and now they’re planning to keep us for even longer? Everyone was looking forward to a 3 month summer holiday which is what we deserve but now we literally only leave 2 weeks before everyone else. I’ve had enough. We all feel like shit. Everyone’s depressed. I literally cry everyday. Why are we still in lessons. We should be able to revise at home. No one revises in class , everyone just talks shit and goes on their phone. Sorry about this rant I’m just so lost and I want to disappear because of school.

    • Chiagoziem Nneke

      Mate I totally I agree with you, as a fellow student school is a waste of time and not benefical. It is a massive distraction and a monumentus obstacle for revising.

  11. My child’s school decided a few days before the exams to enforce compulsory revision in school and refuse study leave. It has been horrific!!
    Most days they have an exam at 9am..then have to wait 3 and half hrs sitting in a classroom until a revision session of 50mins before they may leave.
    They are not permitted to use their phone as the Head Teacher wrote, they can’t be trusted.
    On the 2nd day it was obvious the students didn’t want to stay or at least leave for lunch.
    The school had teachers guarding every exit and guarding the corridors, they refused to allow them to leave.
    I’m shocked at how badly they’ve handled this exam period, this has been a very good school and academically I’m sure it is but to treat the students this way doesn’t instil them with confidence and has caused huge resentment. It feels like they’re under school arrest!!
    At a time when they need to be calm and revise in the best way that suits them this has been taken away from them.
    All because the Government derided to shake things up this year!!
    I was saddened to read the comments below, this definitely seems a poor decision. I hope it doesn’t have a negative impact.

  12. Absolutely disgusting and thoughtless decision, it’s been tough enough keeping my daughter in school with her terrible mental health and this was the one single thing keeping her going. I am completely done with it, and so is she. Way to improve attendance Sunak!

    • In 2024, clearly nothing has changed. Y11 are not trusted by teachers who treat them like dirt. Respect is a word teachers have forgotten completely, and that it is a two-way street. Any one who mentions mental well-being is automatically labelled a trouble maker. One school I am aware of has not only refused any form of study leave from those sitting GCSEs this year, but they are also expected to attend normal lessons as well. naturally this has resulted in detentions being dished out for non-attendance at lessons when the student is actually in the exam! This means some students are in their exams with all the revision that is required to go with + attending standard lessons with homework being dished out as well! Is it any wonder kids today have attitude to authority in any form? Government – regardless of political affiliation – should ensure all students get the same chances, and that requires better teaching from properly educated staff (not those who tell children to use “i” instead of “I” in English, and send them into detention when the error of their ways is pointed out) and study leave/study lessons during exam weeks. At least in the past, the qualifications stood for something positive; today, they are barely worth the paper they’re written on.