ASCL update on 2021 exam talks

05/10/2020
Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on talks this afternoon between education organisations, Schools Minister Nick Gibb, Ofqual Interim Chief Regulator Dame Glenys Stacey, and Department for Education officials, regarding plans for GCSEs and A-levels in 2021.
 
Commenting on talks this afternoon between education organisations, Schools Minister Nick Gibb, Ofqual Interim Chief Regulator Dame Glenys Stacey, and Department for Education officials, regarding plans for GCSEs and A-levels in 2021, Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“We have put forward, with other education organisations, a set of proposals designed to make next summer’s exams as fair as possible, and we were pleased to have the opportunity to discuss this with the Schools Minister this afternoon.
 
“We recognise that decisions around GCSEs and A-levels in 2021 are difficult, and it is imperative that any changes are carefully considered. However, we are increasingly frustrated at the ongoing lack of clarity from the government over what it plans to do about these exams to mitigate the impact of the ongoing disruption caused by the Covid pandemic.
 
“We are aware of speculation that exams may be delayed by a few weeks to allow for more teaching time. But it is important to understand that the benefit of doing this is marginal compared to the disruption that has already taken place and is likely to continue over the coming weeks and months. It doesn’t go far enough and more will need to be done.
 
“The content of the exams needs to be reviewed to allow students more choice in the questions they answer, and, most importantly, there has to be a robust contingency plan for students who are unable to sit exams or whose preparation is very badly affected by the impact of Covid.
 
“This could take the form of staged assessment in the autumn or spring term which could then be used as a basis for an awarded grade for students in these circumstances. But the government really does need to get its skates on. Schools, colleges, and students need clarity over the path ahead, and reassurance that the government has a grip on this issue.”