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Assessments: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 146810, tabled on 1 February 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has to assess external students for 2021 public examinations, including students sitting resits, in the event that they are studying independently with no oversight from teachers.

Answered on

9 February 2021

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Government considers that exams cannot be held in a way which is fair. We have therefore announced that GCSE, AS and A level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has asked the Chief Regulator at Ofqual to find a clear and accessible route for private candidates, and those not in school this year, to be assessed and receive a grade. To ensure our approach is developed with the sector, the Department and Ofqual have now concluded a 2-week consultation on how to fairly award all pupils a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives, including consulting specifically on four different approaches for private candidates to receive a grade.

The Department has consulted on the following options: for private candidates to complete the papers set by the exam boards for use in schools and colleges, for private candidates to work with a school or college willing to assess the standard at which they are performing, using the same type of evidence the school and college is considering for its students, and for the exam boards to run normal exams for private candidates to take in the summer or autumn of 2021.

​We are working at pace to provide further clarity to the sector and will publish the results of the consultation by the end of February.

The Department and Ofqual have strongly encouraged all our stakeholders, including private candidates and their parents, to respond to the consultation. The Department will continue to engage with a range of relevant stakeholders when developing plans for our policy on GCSE, AS and A level assessments in 2021, as will the exams regulator Ofqual.