School Exams in England Next Year Delayed by Three Weeks

October 12, 2020 Updated: October 12, 2020

UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said on Oct. 12 that most A-Level and GCSE exams will be held next year, although three weeks later than usual.

Contingency plans will also be drawn up over the next six weeks to handle any potential disruptions to the students’ exam process.

Williamson says no further changes will now be made to the curriculum, which had been pared and adjusted in some subjects to compensate for the effects of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus.

“Exams are the fairest way of judging a student’s performance so they will go ahead, underpinned by contingency measures developed in partnership with the sector,” Williamson said in a statement.

“Students have experienced considerable disruption and it’s right we give them, and their teachers, the certainty that exams will go ahead and more time to prepare.”

The announcement was welcomed by exam regulator Ofqual, and by the Association of Head Teachers.

The government said it will work across the sector to identify and mitigate areas of potential disruption.

“This could be a student unable to sit exams due to illness or self-isolation, or schools affected by a local outbreak during the examination season meaning centers cannot open,” the statement says.

An extra exam will also be held in May in both mathematics and English to hedge against possible disruption to what the government describes as “core subjects.”

Epoch Times Photo
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson attends a Cabinet meeting of senior government ministers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on Sept. 1, 2020. (Toby Melville – WPA Pool / Getty Images)

In July, Ofqual made the decision to adjust the content of some subjects to counter the impact of the pandemic.

“The curriculum is settled, and now students and teachers have greater certainty about how and when students will be assessed,” Ofqual said in a statement.

According to Ofqual, exams will start on June 7, and results days will be in late August.

The National Association of Head Teachers welcomed the government’s announcement but said it was late in coming.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the union, said it was “disappointing it has taken this long to get to this point when there are so many more decisions to be made.”

In a statement, he said, “Announcing a delay is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the planning that now needs to be done.”

Whiteman said that he welcomed the government’s commitment to creating contingency plans in conjunction with the education community.

“Schools and colleges need to know whether they should be gathering evidence of formal assessments which might be needed where students are unable to sit some or all of their exams next summer,” he said.

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