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Assessments: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL9447, tabled on 21 October 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential health risk posed by students sitting exams in 2021; and what plans they have to prepare alternative arrangements.

Answered on

4 November 2020

We have worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) to develop specific guidance for school settings. Where schools implement the system of controls outlined in our September reopening guidance, in line with their own workplace risk assessment, PHE and DHSC confirm that they create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.

The autumn series of exams is currently in progress. A Level exams have concluded without incident and GCSE exams started on 2 November. We have worked with PHE to develop public health guidance to support autumn exams. The guidance sets out arrangements that schools, colleges and other exam centers should implement when delivering exams in autumn 2020 to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This guidance will be updated as necessary to support 2021 exams and is available at:

In terms of wider contingency planning, we are planning for every eventuality. More detail will be published later in the autumn to ensure students have confidence that they will be treated fairly in 2021 assessments.

We are working closely with Ofqual to engage widely with school and further education leaders, exam boards, unions and the higher education sector over the coming weeks to identify any risks to exams at a national, local, and individual student level, and consider measures needed to address any potential disruption.