TWO of East Lancashire’s biggest colleges have announced their decision to accept applicants based on GCSE grades submitted by their schoolteachers.

Nelson and Colne College Group, which also includes Accrington and Rossendale College, said that the decision has been taken to provide reassurance to applicants and to ensure there is no repeat of the anxiety that faced A-level students last week.

Like A-level students, GCSE exams were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving schools to submit expected grades to examination boards.

Assistant principal Fionnuala Swann said: “Ahead of the release of GCSE results on Thursday, Nelson and Colne College Group has made the decision to accept applicants onto their college course based on grades submitted by their schoolteachers - where higher than official grades.

“We know that this has been an unprecedented year and we hope this decision provides reassurance for Year 11 pupils and parents.

This comes following the recent controversy over A-level results, in which around 40 per cent of results nationwide were downgraded after the exams regulator Ofqual used an algorithm based on schools’ previous results to award qualifications.

As a result, many of these students, often from schools in more deprived areas, were left with lower grades than they had been predicted and could be in danger of missing out on university places. The Government is under pressure to follow the lead of the Scottish government and reinstate results based on teacher assessment.

Nelson and Colne College Group is now working with local secondary schools around the sharing of 'centre assessed grades'.

This year’s enrolment for Nelson and Colne College and Accrington and Rossendale College will be taking place online in order to minimise the risk of coronavirus infection.

College management says that applicants and parents are being sent key communications about this process.

Ms Swann said: “We are committed to ensuring that young people can be as successful as possible following the significant disruption they have had to their education.

“We believe that our students will play a vital role in the recovery of the local and national economy and deserve the very best start to their college journey.”