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Assessments: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 124321, tabled on 2 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of cancelling examinations for (a) Key Stage 4 and (b) Key Stage 5 students in 2021 in response to the loss of in-person teaching time as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

11 December 2020

The Government is clear that exams will take place in summer 2021. Exams are the fairest form of assessment.

GCSEs are an important assessment of attainment at a crucial stage of a pupil’s progression at age 16, in England 71% of young people change institution. A levels open the door to the next stages of higher and vocational education at age 18. There is broad consensus backing the decision to hold exams because they are a critical part of the education system, giving students the foundations that they need to move on to the next stage of their life.

The Department recognises that there could be challenges for pupils being assessed in summer 2021, and we are preparing for all eventualities. The Department has announced a wide range of contingency measures, including an additional contingency paper for most subjects. We also recognise that pupils taking exams this year have faced disruption, and that is why grades in 2021 will be more generous, in line with outcomes from 2020. There will also be adaptions to exams, such as giving students advance notice of topic areas and exam support materials to ensure fairness at this exceptional time.

The Department will continue to work with Ofqual, exam boards, and representatives of the sector to ensure exams can take place successfully in the summer.