The impact of Raac on our subject has not been understood

The government announce no dispensation for the thousands of young people whose examinations will be affected by Raac.

Yet again we see the impact of decades of neglect on our learners and the disproportionate levels of disruption on subjects that require access to specialist facilities. We know that NSEAD members have had to abandon darkrooms, ceramics studios, printmaking facilities – this specialist equipment cannot be easily transferred into temporary art and design classrooms. 

Speaking on BBC CWR, 8 Jan 2024*, Michele Gregson, general secretary of NSEAD, explains why and how Raac is especially impacting on young people and learning in art and design.

There is no doubt that GCSE, A level and VCE assessments in art and design, and many other subjects, will be compromised for the young people in Raac disrupted schools – of which there are 228. Our members have described the impact of working in non-subject specific classrooms: 'learning is disjointed', 'working in offices is not the same as working in art rooms'. 

We also know there are large numbers of students whose coursework has been affected. One member described the numbers of students taking exams this year: 'We are a large school with approximately 50-80 pupils in each KS4 cohort [year group].' Our members also describe the difficulties of art and design candidates working in smaller scales, of initially undertaking coursework online, of schemes of learning changing at speed, and that moderation in smaller spaces will be problematic. We believe the DfE's announcement does not take into consideration the uniqueness of teaching and learning in art and design. 

The advice from the DfE, as reported by the BBC, is for affected schools to "get in touch with their exam boards for support on a case-by-case basis" and that Ofqual's advice to exam boards is to prioritise 'queries' from Raac affected schools. However, this assurance holds no water unless JCQ is able to confirm that candidates will be eligible for special consideration. We believe many art and design departments are currently in a twilight zone, unable to reassure students that they won’t be disadvantaged by a situation that is beyond their control.

As Raac continues to negatively impact on teaching, learning and assessment in art and design, NSEAD is calling for Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for School Standards and JCQ to give the assurances both learners and schools need. The unique nature of the examinations in our subject has not been understood and must be addressed. We call for the DfE, Ofqual and JCQ to move at speed to provide the assurance that schools, students and their families urgently need. 


* Please note the segment begins on BBC CWR 2 hours 14 minutes in.