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Music: GCE A-level and GCSE

Question for Department for Education

UIN 105364, tabled on 19 October 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he will take to accommodate students who have been unable to practice their chosen musical instrument in school during the covid -19 outbreak in forthcoming GCSE and A Level music exams.

Answered on

22 October 2020

The Government has been clear that it is a top priority to keep schools open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure all pupils get a high quality education.

The Department’s guidance for the full opening of schools for this academic year makes clear that the curriculum should remain broad so that the majority of pupils are taught a full range of subjects over the year, including the arts. The guidance also states that in Key Stage 4 and 5, the majority of GCSE and A level students are expected to continue to study their examination subjects, including those due to take exams in music, to support them towards their preferred route to further study.

There may be an additional risk of infection in environments where singing, and playing of wind or brass instruments, takes place. The guidance also sets out detailed advice on how schools can teach these aspects of music safely. Schools should take the necessary steps to ensure those singing or practicing woodwind or brass instruments in school can do so safely. The Department’s full guidance is available at:

In August, Ofqual published decisions on subject-level changes to exams and assessments in 2021, including for GCSE and A level music, to reduce pressure on teaching time next year and respond to public health requirements. On Monday 12 October, the Government confirmed that no further subject-level changes to exams and assessments will be made for GCSEs, AS and A levels. This confirmation gives teachers, school and college leaders, and students clarity on what will be assessed in exams next summer.

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