Labour is calling for next year’s A level and GCSE exams to be delayed - here’s why

Do you think exams should be delayed? (Photo: Shutterstock)Do you think exams should be delayed? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Do you think exams should be delayed? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Labour has called for A level and GCSE exams in England to be delayed next year.

The call comes in order to allow pupils time to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which saw millions forced to miss out on six months of teaching time since the virus broke out in March.

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“A mountain to climb”

With schools having been forced to close in late March due to the coronavirus lockdown, pupils have had to adjust to new methods of learning, using various educational tools at home.

While schools are due to reopen again in September, Shadow education secretary Kate Green has said that the last six months away from classrooms has left pupils entering Year 11 and 13 with “a mountain to climb” unless the timetable is changed.

Ms Green argued that exams due to take place in May next year need to be delayed to allow pupils time to catch up on their studies.

The shadow education secretary has called for exams to instead take place in June or July, as this would facilitate additional teaching time.

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She said: “Pupils across the country who have missed out on vital teaching time will have a mountain to climb to prepare for May exams unless the government steps in.

“Ministers had warning after warning about problems with this year’s exam results, but allowed it to descend into a fiasco.

“This is too important for Boris Johnson to leave until the last minute. Pupils heading back to school need clarity and certainty about the year ahead.”

Labour is also urging ministers to review the existing support arrangements for post-16 students to ensure that pupils who are preparing to sit their A level exams are not left without help.

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Exams to go ahead in 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that exams will go ahead next year and it has been working closely with exam regulator Ofqual to consider its approach.

The DfE said it recognised that pupils due to sit their exams next summer have suffered significant disruption to their education, stating this is why Year 10 and Year 12 pupils were prioritised to return to school last term.

Despite the disruption, ministers have said it is still “far too early” to decide whether or not to postpone or cancel exams next year, and imposing a delay would not be without its consequences.

Later exams would cause a consequential delay to the publication of results, thereby putting added pressure on universities, colleges and employers.

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Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the environment secretary said: “I think the reality is we want to get schools back and we want students to be sitting their exams as normal next year.

“The precise timing and the approach to that will be something that obviously the Department for Education and Ofqual and others will decide working with schools.

“It’s far too early to be saying you’re going to postpone things or cancel things as the Labour Party seem to be saying - I think that’s the wrong approach.

“What we should actually be doing at the moment is focusing on getting schools back in the saddle and running again so that young people can resume their education.”

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