GCSE and A-level exams in England are expected to be altered next year to take into account the disruption the pandemic has caused to pupils’ education, the BBC reports.
Speaking to MPs on the Education Select Committee, education secretary Gavin Williamson explained how 2022 exams would need to be changed to make sure “there's fairness and there’s the right level of support,” and that pupils wouldn't be at a disadvantage.
He noted: “Those youngsters who are currently in Year 10 and Year 12 will have suffered disruption as a result of the pandemic”. As a result, Williamson said it is simply not possible to “immediately switch back to the situation as it was back in 2019”.
Some of the potential ways the exams could be modified include cutting down the subject areas that will be tested, pushing back exam dates so there is more lesson time, and looking at ways to take into account the fact the pupils would have covered different amounts of their courses.
“We’ll look at a similar set of measures that can be brought forward in order to support pupils as they take assessments,” Williamson told MPs.
General secretary of the Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL), Geoff Barton, said these measures were required in order “to prevent these young people from being disadvantaged by this turbulence”.
He added: “There is also a big question over what happens in September if educational disruption continues next academic year, because this too will need to be taken into account in terms of next summer’s exams.”
MP Caroline Johnson, member of the committee, raised the issue of grade inflation – asking if students would get a fair outcome in the event that many high grades were awarded. She also explained how parents had told her more replacement tests were being taken than if the actual exams had gone ahead.
Williamson stressed how GCSEs and A-level exams had been cancelled with “incredible reluctance”, with the replacement initiatives put in place to ensure fairness and consistency.
“Looking across all the different routes that we could take, we felt that teacher-assessed grades, putting our trust in teachers, was the absolute best approach,” he said.
Exam boards have received teachers’ grades, though Williamson said he doesn’t yet have any indication of how these grades were looking. There is also currently no data giving an indication of whether grades are going to be higher than usual.
What measures would you like to see introduced to support pupils taking exams next year?