GCSEs: Mocks plan ‘makes mockery’ of allowing more time

Lib Dems say using mocks as back up would undermine three weeks extra for 2021 GCSEs and A levels. Labour accuses DfE of 'breathtaking' incompetence
13th October 2020, 5:54pm

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GCSEs: Mocks plan ‘makes mockery’ of allowing more time

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/gcses-mocks-plan-makes-mockery-allowing-more-time
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The idea of using "rigorous" mock exams if A levels and GCSEs cannot go ahead next year makes a "mockery of the government's measures to give more teaching time", it has been claimed.

Yesterday, education secretary Gavin Williamson announced that most GCSEs and A levels in 2021 would be delayed by three weeks to allow more teaching time. 

And today Dame Glenys Stacey, Ofqual's interim chief regulator, confirmed reports that the use of mocks was one option being looked at as the exams regulator worked out ways to counter Covid disruption


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But speaking in a parliamentary debate, Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrats education spokesperson, said: "How can we push back school exams by three weeks to give more time for teaching, then basically bring them forward by five months by formalising mock exams?

"Most mocks will take place early next year, and many students and teachers feel that they will have little time to cover this year's syllabus, making a mockery of the government's measures to give more teaching time."

She said the approach was "incredibly half-baked" and said that students and teachers had met Mr Williamson's plan with "at best, scepticism and, at worst, derision".

Margaret Greenwood, Labour's shadow schools minister, told yesterday's Westminster Hall debate on exams that: "The incompetence of the government is breathtaking".

"The government has presided over a summer of chaos, incompetence and confusion, and its failure to effectively manage the exams and assessments processes for summer 2020 caused enormous anxiety for many children and young people, as well as their families and teachers," she said.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: "The government is right, in our view, to pursue a 'Plan A' which would enable all students to sit exams in summer 2021. Students in Year 11 and 13 are already more than halfway through their courses and must be enabled to complete those courses…As these qualifications are mainly designed to be assessed by final examination, it is right that these exams should go ahead if possible."

"As the education secretary has confirmed, there will be no further subject-level changes to exams and assessments this year. That confirmation gives teachers, school leaders and pupils clarity on what will be assessed in the exams next summer," he said.

He also said he understood "clearly that the grading situation in summer 2020 caused great stress and uncertainty".

"The education secretary and I both understand the distress that it caused young people and their parents," he said. "We never wanted to cancel exams."

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