Teenagers face delays to GCSE and A-level exams next summer


Thousands of pupils across North Staffordshire could see their GCSE exams delayed next summer to help give them time to catch up.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is consulting with exams regulator Ofqual on the move, which could also affect the timing of A-levels.

It follows concerns about the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on young people’s academic progress. Although students in Year 10 and Year 12 began returning to school part-time last week, many have missed chunks of their learning since March.

This year’s exams were cancelled due to the pandemic and teenagers will be awarded grades based on teacher assessment instead.

The GCSE and A-level papers are normally taken during May and June.  But in 2021, the start date could be later and they could continue well into July.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

Mr Williamson was quizzed about the issue during education questions in Parliament yesterday.

Tory MP Alex Shelbrooke asked whether next summer’s exams could be pushed back from May to July to help students make up for work they have missed.

The Education Secretary replied: “(Mr Shelbrooke) raises an important point about how do we add more teaching time in. And that is why we’ll be consulting with Ofqual about how we can move those exams back, giving children extra time in order to be able to learn and really flourish.”

Delaying the exams season could have knock-on effects for the traditional A-level and GCSE results days in August. If results are still released at the normal time, it leaves exam boards with a race to get all the papers marked within weeks.

Teenagers hoping to start university in autumn 2021 would also need to know their grades in time to secure degree places.

An Ofqual spokesman said: “We recognise students expecting to take exams next year, and their parents and teachers, are concerned about the disruption to teaching and learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are working closely with the Department for Education, exam boards and groups representing teachers, schools, colleges and students, to carefully consider a range of possible measures. We are planning to publish for consultation, before the end of term, our proposals for 2021.”

Mr Williamson has also confirmed he will outline plans next week to get schools fully reopened.

He has already hinted that the limit on teaching pupils in groups of no more than 15 in primary schools could be relaxed. Next term, class sizes are likely to be back up to 30.

With plans to change social distancing rules, more children could also fit inside each classroom. At the moment, school desks have to be kept two metres apart.





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