ASCL comment on exam arrangements for 2022

30/09/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the exam arrangements and contingency proposals for next summer’s exam series.
 
Commenting on the exam arrangements and contingency proposals for next summer’s exam series, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“We are pleased that schools, colleges, and students at last have clarity about exam adaptations and grading standards for 2022, as well as proposals for contingency arrangements in the event that exams cannot take place next summer.
 
“It is a sensible set of measures which should ensure that students are assessed as fairly as possible for A-levels, GCSEs and other important qualifications following the huge educational disruption caused by the pandemic.
 
“This should all have been sorted and announced much earlier. It is frustrating that it has taken to this point – deep into the autumn term and with ongoing Covid-related disruption in schools and colleges – to set out the shape of exams for which young people are studying.
 
“Some people will disagree with the decision that advance notice of exam topics will not be provided until early February and will feel this information should be provided earlier given the disruption that has taken place.
 
“It seems a reasonable balance between allowing time to cover as much of the course content as possible and time to focus on topics that will come up in the exams, given that both these considerations are important for students who have potentially missed out on learning.
 
“However, it will need to be kept under review according to the impact of Covid as the academic year progresses and we’re pleased that this is acknowledged by the government.
 
“The decision to have a transition year in terms of grading standards before returning to the pre-pandemic distribution of 2019 is understandable.
 
“We had proposed a direct return to the 2019 distribution as the fairest solution to past, present and future cohorts, but we recognise there is no ideal solution to the dilemma of where to pin grading standards following two years of turbulence. We welcome that a decision has been made and that everybody now knows where they stand.
 
“We hope that exams can take place next summer but past events have shown the need for a Plan B, and it is therefore prudent and sensible to set out contingency arrangements which we will now look at in detail.
 
“This is the sort of contingency planning that should have happened last year but which the government completely failed to put in place leading to a late scramble to sort out the process for teacher-assessed grades. We’re pleased that it has learned lessons from that episode.”