ASCL welcomes these proposals, and the fact that the Department for Education and
Ofqual have accepted that adaptations need to be made to both general and vocational
and technical qualifications this year, to recognise the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
It is helpful that this consultation has come out earlier than last year, but disappointing
that these decisions have again not been made in time for schools and colleges to plan
their approach to teaching, learning and assessment for September. The decision to
delay confirming adaptions to the summer 2021 exam series (had it gone ahead) until
the autumn term placed considerable stress, anxiety and workload on school and
college leaders, teachers, students and parents. All these key stakeholders need to
know the proposed adaptations before the start of the academic year.
With this in mind, we are also disappointed that this consultation does not seek views
on specific contingency plans in the event that public exams are deemed untenable in
2022. Throughout autumn 2020, the sector was told repeatedly by ministers and
government officials that exams would go ahead in summer 2021, and that contingency
plans therefore weren’t required, only for that to change on 4 January 2021. As late as
8 December 2020, the Chief Regulator advised Parliament that schools and colleges
did not need to collate any formal evidence of students’ performance. This remark, and
the subsequent government u-turn three weeks later, resulted in considerable and
unnecessary workload and anxiety for leaders, teachers, students and parents.
Full response to consultation