ASCL comment on exam contingency plan

11/11/2021
Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the outcome of the consultation on contingency arrangements for GCSE, AS and A-level.
 
Commenting on the outcome of the consultation on contingency arrangements for GCSE, AS and A-level, Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: 
 
Schools and colleges will be relieved to at last have certainty over the back-up plan in case exams cannot go ahead next summer, but it is ridiculous that it has taken so long for the government to confirm these arrangements. Teachers and students deserved to know what to expect much earlier and there is no reason why this could not have been sorted out before term began in September. But here we are more than half way through the autumn term before the machinery of government has managed to creak its way to a conclusion.

“These plans involve students having to sit a series of mock exams which may or may not count towards their final grades, as well as then probably having to take formal exams next summer. This is far from ideal and places them under a great deal of pressure. But not having a contingency plan would risk a repeat of the chaos of the past two years, and therefore, on balance, this seems like the right course of action and the confirmed set of measures appear to be sensible enough. 

“Given these very difficult circumstances, however, it was particularly important that the government came to an early decision so that students at least had as much advance notice as possible, and so that schools and colleges were able to plan accordingly. We simply do not understand why the government has not shown a much greater sense of urgency.

“This plan will mean considerable workload for schools and colleges. To mitigate the additional workload, the exam boards should produce banks of assessment questions that can be used flexibly by schools and colleges to construct exam-style papers.