Robert's Weekly Article - 19th August 2020

This time of year is always nerve-wracking for A level and GSCE students, but in this Covid-hit year of 2020,  the process was always going to be a particularly tough one.  The cancellation of public exams was one of the hardest decisions the government had to make during the last few months, as  it was clear that there could be no replacement for examinations that would work for everyone.  

Following the initial publication of this year’s A Level results,  I have been contacted by students and their families with their individual stories of how they were disappointed with the results awarded and how they did not accurately reflect what could have been achieved in an exam.

These messages were heartfelt and concerning.  I am pleased that the government has agreed to revert to what is known as centre assessment grades, which are the ones which schools and colleges assessed students were most likely to have achieved had the exams gone ahead.

Students awaiting their GCSE grades on Thursday will receive their centre assessment grade from their school or college, and those who received their A or AS level results last week will be reissued their grade. It is important to note that if the calculated grades were higher than the centre assessment grade, the calculated grade will stand.

People who previously missed their university offer and will now meet it on the basis of their centre assessment grade should get in contact with the university as soon as possible. Those who have accepted an offer will be able to release themselves if they have another offer reinstated.

This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for our young people and I sincerely hope that this announcement will now provide them with the certainty and reassurance they deserve. For more information, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/gcse-and-a-level-students-to-receive-centre-assessment-grades.

Earlier this week the merger of Swindon College and New College took place following a public consultation. The merger will bring together our town’s two colleges which had complementary specialisms and strengths to create a single institution offering comprehensive academic, technical and professional education and training at all levels.

The merger now means that Swindon has a single institution offering the widest range of high-quality courses for young people and adults, including employers and apprentices, for more than 50 miles. It also means that work can now begin on the £21 million Institute of Technology, part of a national initiate by the Conservative Government and something I was determined to secure for Swindon.  It will build upon Swindon’s strong engineering and technical heritage by offering higher education courses locally.

On Monday the second round of the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme opened for applications. So far here in South Swindon, the government has provided £10,600,000 in support to self-employed individuals whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. I am pleased that this funding will increase even further as the second stage of the scheme opens for applications.

Full details on this can be found via: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme?fbclid=IwAR3DwANQ8os474YttvuhWoNEdeVUdAIQyS31GxX3I8xIAu9vuvQHWFSMY6U

On Monday I had the opportunity to visit a number of local businesses in our town centre to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on footfall. It is important during these difficult times that we all do our bit to support and promote our local businesses.

That is why I set up a dedicated page on my website to highlight them and their services. This can be found on: https://www.robertbuckland.co.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-small-local-business-support?fbclid=IwAR3Mu4orO1zYG2k9sUzQkaAUvyP2gx5pGzsDcmYwk1tALpOr3ezMMeX1bEs.

If you run a small local business and would like to be added to this page, please get in touch with me by emailing Robert.buckland.mp@parliament.uk