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GCSE: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 45482, tabled on 11 May 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking with education and skills providers to develop materials for year 11 pupils due to take GCSE examinations in summer 2020 to prepare those pupils for their post-16 education and training after the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

19 May 2020

From Friday 20 March, all educational settings were closed to everyone except the children of critical workers and vulnerable children. Therefore, exams for summer 2020 have been cancelled. Year 11 and year 13 students who were due to sit A level, AS level or GCSE exams this summer will receive a calculated grade in August, and separate guidance from Ofqual on awarding GCSE, AS and A levels was published in April.

The guidance makes clear that there is no requirement for schools and colleges to set additional mock exams or remote education tasks for the purposes of determining a calculated grade, and no student should be disadvantaged if they are unable to complete any work set after schools and colleges were closed.

In relation to vocational or technical qualifications (VTQs), our priority is to ensure that students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses, apprenticeships in the autumn, getting a job or progressing in work. Ofqual published a consultation on its proposed measures for the assessment and awarding of VTQs on 24 April and this closed 8 May. A response will be published shortly.

In terms of support and materials for the next stage of their education, we have taken action to make sure students that can still access high quality careers information, advice and guidance.

In particular, the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) continues to support schools and colleges to provide young people and their parents with careers education and guidance, working with the network of local partners and providers across the country. The CEC is collating and disseminating existing ideas and resources that can be used by schools, colleges and students while pupils are working remotely. In the longer term, they are considering ways they can continue to deliver the CEC mission of (virtually) connecting schools, colleges, young people, employers and training providers.

The National Careers Service (NCS) is also continuing to provide careers information, advice and guidance to young people, their parents and adults through its helpline, website and web chat facility. The NCS is also supporting the delivery of the online Skills Toolkit. This is a new online platform which aims to give people easy access to free, high quality digital and numeracy courses to help them improve their skills, progress in work and raise their job prospects.

We are also investigating with colleges and other further education (FE) providers what further practical support might be offered to those students leaving FE, particularly regarding careers advice and employment.