GCSEs and A levels 2021: England sticking with exams

Decision to cancel summer exams in Wales today prompts DfE to say it agrees with Ofqual that exams ‘should go ahead next year’
10th November 2020, 5:15pm

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GCSEs and A levels 2021: England sticking with exams

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/gcses-and-levels-2021-england-sticking-exams
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The Westminster government has said that exams are the "fairest" way of judging pupils' performance, following a decision from the Welsh education minister to scrap GCSEs and A levels in 2021. 

Earlier today, it was announced that coursework and teacher assessments will replace exams in Wales next year, because of the ongoing disruption to education caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams said that the ongoing pandemic made it "impossible to guarantee a level playing field for exams to take place" and that the decision "removes pressures from learners".

But in a statement responding to the decision, the Department for Education said it agreed with Ofqual that exams were the best way forward for students in England in 2021.


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A DfE spokesperson said: "Exams are the fairest way of judging a student's performance, which is why Ofqual and the government all agree they should go ahead next year.

"We are working closely with stakeholders on the measures needed to ensure exams can be held and will set out plans over the coming weeks."

Today, when questioned by the Commons Education Select Committee, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said cancelling exams would risk "harm" to pupils, as they would lack motivation and structure for the rest of the academic year.

"One of the messages that came across really strongly from young people themselves last summer in the face of the calculated grades model was how much they resented not having the chance to show what they could do for themselves," she told the committee.

"So if you pull out something around which the system is organised without something else in its place, you could end up inadvertently doing real harm," she added.

More information about the format of exams in England in 2021 is due to be published by the end of this month.

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