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Volunteers Want Grenfell Survivors To Have Unconditional University Offers, Whatever Their A-Level Results

Kensington and Chelsea council leader Elizabeth Campbell said some pupils took exams following the night of the fire and in the days afterwards.

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Two months after a fire tore through Grenfell Tower, local volunteers on the ground have expressed concerns over "already traumatised" Grenfell survivors receiving their A-level results this week.

Their concerns have led to some urging UCAS to make sure that survivors' conditional university offers are accepted regardless of their results on Thursday morning.

Professor Chris Imafidon, a local resident and volunteer, told BuzzFeed News he is concerned that Grenfell survivors might become more depressed than they already are if they don't get the results they want.

Imafidon told BuzzFeed News that he has also called for UCAS, the UK's university admissions service, to make sure that survivors' conditional offers from universities are not rejected on the account of their grades.

"I've written to some universities and to UCAS to ensure they rely on their predicted grades rather than their actual grades," he said. "If all the universities agree to that then there won't be any problem at all." If UCAS rejected their place at university, he added, then it would be tough for students, as well as their parents.

This is why Imafidon and other volunteers say they want to make sure that every single Grenfell survivor expecting their results tomorrow has an adult with them.

Anoop Panesar, another volunteer, told BuzzFeed News it was not only survivors whose results could be impacted by the tragedy. Many local students stayed up all night to help survivors, despite having exams in the days after.

"I've got two volunteers who were at college at the time of the tragedy. Some stayed up all through the night, and then went to college and took two or three days off to get their exams out the way," she said.

"They are working around the clock, but they've never complained about anything to do with college or studies, because they just can't take all that in. But I think that will change with the results coming out this week, I think that will take a turn and more attention will be shone on to it."

A Grenfell Response Team spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that every school in Kensington and Chelsea is being offered help and assistance for both teachers and pupils that may be traumatised following the fire.

On exam results day, both for GCSEs and A-levels, students will be offered counselling, mental health support, and career advice, with schools in north Kensington given priority.

A spokesperson for JCQ, the body that represents exam boards, told BuzzFeed News that following the Manchester attack and the Grenfell Tower tragedy changes were made to the special consideration rules, which students could apply for if their exams were affected in any way.

The spokesperson also confirmed to BuzzFeed News that many applications for "special consideration" were made by schools on behalf of their students during the GCSE and A-level examination period last term.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education told BuzzFeed News that affected schools have been linked with an educational psychologist and mental health support workers. In addition, survivors have a named contact who can be reached at any ‎time for additional help.

“Ofqual is working with exam boards to provide coordinated support to those affected and has well-established measures in place to help those students who are unable to attend an exam or complete a qualification," the spokesperson added.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Kensington and Chelsea council leader Elizabeth Campbell said some pupils took exams following the night of the fire and in the days afterwards.

"I want to ensure that their chances of a university or sixth-form place are not impacted by something totally out of their control," she said.

“The council has written to schools and made support available as pupils come to collect GCSE and A-level results over the next two weeks. We will also be there with help when the first day of term arrives in September.

“I’d like to thank the headteachers and teachers involved in this effort, they are a credit to the schools and communities they serve."

Imafidon told BuzzFeed News that he's spoken to the parents of students who are expecting their results on Thursday, but their top priority is securing permanent accommodation for their family. "The entire country needs to get ready to tell students that their grade does not reflect their ability or their future," he said.

Childline figures from last year show that the number of young people receiving counselling about their A-level and GCSE exam results increased by 20%, with calls for help peaking in August when exam grades are announced.

A spokesperson for UCAS told BuzzFeed News that Universities and colleges are understanding of the circumstances of applicants who survived the Grenfell Tower tragedy. They also encouraged any applicants affected by the Grenfell fire to contact their university choices as soon as possible to discuss their situation.

"If any of the applicants impacted by the Grenfell fire find themselves in Clearing, our advisors on Twitter and Facebook can help anybody with questions about how to use the Clearing system if they wish to go to university this year," the spokesperson said.

"For any applicants who want wider advice about their choices after A levels they can contact the Department for Education Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000," they added.

Fiona Rutherford is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Fiona Rutherford at fiona.rutherford@buzzfeed.com.

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