Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about exams in schools and colleges in 2021.
I am concerned that the way the exams and assessments processes were managed in summer 2020 caused enormous anxiety for many children and young people, as well as their families and teachers.
From 5 January, all primary schools, secondary schools and colleges were moved to remote learning, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children, as part of a third national lockdown for England.
The Government has now confirmed that students will not be asked to sit GCSE, AS and A level exams this summer. For BTEC and vocational qualifications, the Government said January examinations could take place where schools and other education providers felt it was safe, but has cancelled them for February and March.
I had supported calls for BTEC and other vocational exams to be cancelled and welcomed that the Government have now cancelled February and March assessments. However, I believe this decision has come too late for thousands of worried learners, alongside school and college staff who were placed in an incredibly difficult situation over whether to go ahead with January exams.
On 15 January, the Government launched a joint consultation with Ofqual and the Department for Education on how GCSE, AS and A level grades, as well as vocational qualifications, should be awarded in summer 2021. The Government are seeking views of students who were due to take their exams, their parents and carers, their teachers, school and college leaders and others who have an interest, including further and higher education providers and employers. The consultation is due to close on 29 January 2021. I assure you I will follow developments closely.
I know that parents, pupils, teachers and school leaders need clarity and certainty. Going forward, the Government must ensure that all grades are fair and consistent and support pupils to move on in their education or employment.