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Lockdown: 'Why haven't our BTec exams been cancelled too?'

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"Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives but force the BTec students to do their exams this week, nice one."

The words of one BTec student on learning exams would be going ahead, despite GCSE and A-levels planned for summer being cancelled.

The Department of Education said that vocational exams would go ahead this month in England "where schools and colleges judge it right to do so".

More than 100,000 technical and vocational exams were set to go ahead.

'I don't feel safe'

18-year-old Gisselle's meant to be doing a three-hour business exam on Wednesday morning. She's worried about the lack of information - and the idea of travelling to college while in lockdown.

"Right now, me and my peers haven't got a clue how it's going to run," she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"All I know is that it's meant to be in a room somewhere with computers. Honestly, I don't feel safe doing this exam right now, it's crazy."

Experts recommend anyone sitting an exam in lockdown take the same precautions they would any other time they are out of the house.

"Exam halls are generally a lot less risky than going to a party or a busy supermarket" says virologist Dr Naomi Forrester-Soto.

She says the best thing you can do if you are worried is "to wear a mask, wash your hands and stay two metres apart from others".

But she also says that these barriers "don't completely eliminate the risk safe," and adds it's safer "staying at home".

image copyrightGiselle McDonald
image captionGisselle says loads of students have 'no idea what is happening'

Gisselle feels ignored by the Government - and isn't the only one..

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

"I just don't know how Boris can say 'all exams are cancelled' but BTecs are not included in that," says Gisselle.

"I feel people have the perception that because it's a BTec, it's easier, the content is easier, things are just easier - when actually, it really isn't."

The Department for Education said it recognised "this is a difficult time" but wanted to allow students who had prepared for exams and assessments to continue, including those who needed to take hands-on practical tests for qualifications for jobs.

Sean Coughlan, BBC News education and family correspondent

While exams like GCSEs and A-levels have been cancelled in England's new lockdown, vocational exams such as BTecs are still going ahead this month.

That's annoyed the further education colleges where many young people take such vocational qualifications.

The Association of Colleges has complained to the government that it's "unfair" that students on vocational courses will have the stress of preparing for exams during the pandemic, while those taking GCSEs and A-levels will have other ways of deciding grades.

They also warn it might not even be realistic to hold exams if they can't get enough staff in to supervise them.

This will add to the irritation that these exams are not given a fair amount of attention - when they're taken by about a million people each year, with accusations of academic snobbery.

Although they're best known for being qualifications for skills for jobs, about a quarter of these BTec students go on to university and can use them in their applications.

Pearson, the firm that runs BTecs, says it is expecting them to go ahead as usual.

Gisselle's worried her learning has suffered over the first two national lockdowns and now she just wants "clarity".

But most importantly, she wants all exams to be cancelled because "safety is the most important thing".

"I'm lost for words because the virus has caused so much damage that I just think everything needs to be called off and just let this lockdown happen.

"How do they know a student won't pick up the virus on the way to the exam?"

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