Boris Johnson has refused to rule out cancelling exams this summer after headteachers called for them to scrapped.
The Prime Minister has come under pressure to axe GCSEs and A-Levels because so many children have missed out on schooling since the pandemic began.
Secondary schools have been ordered to close for the first two weeks of term to suppress Covid – particularly the new, faster-spreading variant – and there are fears the shutdown could last until February.
The Prime Minister has come under pressure to axe GCSEs and A-Levels because so many children have missed out on schooling since the pandemic began
Headteachers have warned of huge inequality in the system, with some pupils left to face the summer exams less prepared than others.
Asked yesterday on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 whether exams should be cancelled, the Prime Minister declined to rule the idea out, adding: ‘We’ve got to be realistic about the pace at which this new variant has spread, we’ve got to be realistic about the impact it’s having on our NHS, and we’ve got to be humble in the face of this virus.’
No exams took place last summer, with GCSE and A-level grades based on teacher assessments.
Secondary schools have been ordered to close for the first two weeks of term to suppress Covid. A secondary school is pictured above in London
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson insists national exams must go ahead this summer, even though Scotland and Wales have abandoned them.
But former education secretary Lord Baker told
He said teachers should take into account the number of days missed, adding: ‘They are better than algorithms and they are the only people who can possibly assess the achievement of their students in this extraordinary time.’
More than 2,000 headteachers from the campaign group WorthLess? insist health should not be put at risk simply to protect exam timetables.
They added: ‘Wider public health, pupil and staff safety should be prioritised ahead of examinations. Public safety should not be risked or driven by an inflexible pursuit of GCSE and A-Levels.’
One of its leaders, Jules White, head of Tanbridge House School in Horsham, West Sussex, told
No exams took place last summer, with GCSE and A-level grades based on teacher assessments [File photo]
Recommending teacher assessments for final grades instead, the group said it would be more unfair on pupils in areas hit harder by the pandemic to go ahead with exams.
But Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said: ‘Most children I talk to want exams to continue, but clearly they need to be fair.’
An expert panel is due to report to the Education Secretary with recommendation for making exams fair for children across England.
There are concerns about how to take into account the hidden disadvantages for children whose access to remote learning is poor.
Matt Hood, principal of Oak National Academy, which was commissioned by the Government to produce online lessons, said one million children had been forced to use their parents’ mobile phones to study because they did not own a phone or laptop.
The Department for Education said there was no plan to cancel exams.