GCSE and A-Level exams have been axed this summer, it has been announced tonight.
Hours after Boris Johnson gave a press conference on England’s strict new March-style lockdown, ministers confirmed summer exams are cancelled.
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A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The Government position is that we will not be asking students to sit GCSE and A-Levels.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has released a brief statement ahead of a speech in Parliament tomorrow.
He told UK parents: “I know what a challenging time this is for families, young people
, and for everyone working so hard in education.
“I also know the enormous lengths that teachers and support staff have gone to throughout this pandemic – the benefit of that work on children’s education and wellbeing is quite simply immeasurable, and has enabled millions to be back in classrooms spending valuable time with their teachers.
“It is now vital that we support our young people at home, including making sure all students are receiving the best possible remote education, and that those students who were due to take exams can still progress to their next stage of education or training.”
It came as:
Ministers are working with the exams regulator Ofqual to find a system for awarding grades that “reflects the hard work” of pupils across the country, he added.
It’s likely that, as was the case last year, teacher-assessed grades will be assigned.
The decision was made after the PM last night said the exams wouldn’t be “possible or fair” for kids forced out of face-to-face teaching for months during the pandemic.
Schools will remain shut until at least the February half-term as a mutant strain of Covid takes hold in every region of England.
However, in another blow for beleaguered parents, Mr Johnson has refused to guarantee that all kids will be back before the summer holiday.
The decision to plunge the country back into a strict new lockdown comes as one in every 50 people living in England is now thought to have coronavirus.
Hospital admissions have soared 40 per cent above the peak in April, while the new variant is said to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible.
In England alone, the number of patients in hospital with coronavirus has increased by a third in the past week to just under 27,000.
Experts don’t believe the mutation is any more dangerous to children.
However, officials fear youngsters are spreading it among themselves – before taking it back to their family homes.
It’s understood that although traditional exams are out for the year, schools and colleges in England will be given the flexibility to decide whether they want to run vocational exams due to take place this month.
Ministers faced calls to cancel Btec exams scheduled for this week amid concerns over students’ safety and fairness in the wake of new restrictions.
But the Department for Education (DfE) has said schools and colleges can continue with the January exam series “where they judge it right to do so”.
And on Monday night, the DfE said vocational exams in England would continue as planned in January and students taking exams “should attend as scheduled”.
But after an outcry, the Government has softened its approach.
A DfE spokeswoman said: “In light of the evolving public health measures, schools and colleges can continue with the vocational and technical exams that are due to take place in January, where they judge it right to do so.
“We understand this is a difficult time but we want to support schools and colleges whose students have worked hard to prepare for assessments and exams where necessary.”
During a sombre address to the nation last night, Mr Johnson told Brits summer tests will be cancelled.
“Alternative arrangements will be put in place.”
And this morning Michael Gove, former education secretary, said: “Obviously we can’t have A-levels, GCSEs or BTecs in the way that we have had them in the past.
“But there are ways of ensuring that we can assess the work that students have done, give them a fair recognition of that and help them on to the next stage of their education.”
When asked if that meant exams would be cancelled, he replied: “Yes.”
The Government has faced issues over the return of schools.
On December 14, Mr Williamson threatened councils in London with legal action after the local authorities said schools must close.
Days later, on December 17, ministers said the return of secondary school and college pupils In January would be staggered.
But Sage then advised the Government to keep secondary schools closed – and on December 31, the Education Secretary said the start of term would be delayed to give schools more time to put mass testing facilities in place.
Most pupils were told they’d return on January 18 instead of January 11, while primaries in hotspot areas were told they had to stay shut from January 4.
But as the new year arrived, the Government announced all primary schools in London would stay shut – while others would open as planned.
Two days later, the PM said he had “no doubt” schools were safe.
But yesterday, January 4, Mr Johnson announced that all schools would close, with students moving to remote learning, until at least the February half-term.
It happened hours after three million students returned to class.