Cancel 2021 GCSE and A-level exams, says Lord Baker

Former education secretary who introduced GCSEs urges Gavin Williamson to accept that teacher assessment 'will have to be used again next year'

Amy Gibbons

Coronavirus: IGCSE exams to go ahead in UK and international schools

The former education secretary who introduced GCSEs has called for the exams, along with A levels, to be cancelled in 2021 due to the continued disruption to learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kenneth Baker, Baron Baker of Dorking, who was in charge of education policy when GCSEs were brought in to replace O levels and CSEs in 1988, has written to current education secretary Gavin Williamson urging him to accept that teacher assessment "will have to be used again next year".

Coronavirus: Should GCSE exams be held next year?

However, in order for this to happen, the government will need to send guidance to schools on "the sort of report that teachers should be keeping for each student now, not only on attendance, but on performance as the weeks and months go by", he said.

Related: Warning that exams crisis 'could easily be repeated'

Lib Dems: DfE has 'tunnel vision' over GCSEs and A levels

Digital: Exams could be held partly online in future, says Hinds

"This will provide a record from which teachers can draw when making their assessments," Lord Baker wrote. 

"Your guidance should also encourage schools to provide simple mock exams, at least in the basic subjects of English and maths, but possibly more.

"The advantage of internally set exams is that teachers will be able to adjust for student absence/lost learning in a way that an external examiner will not. I think an early decision from you is needed so that this guidance can be given to teachers in plenty of time."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We expect exams to take place next year and continue to work with Ofqual and the exam boards on our approach, recognising that students will have experienced considerable disruption to their education in the last academic year.

"There are a range of measures proposed by Ofqual following a public consultation, including a possible short delay to the exam timetable and subject-specific changes to reduce pressure on teaching time. We will continue to work with school and college stakeholders, Ofqual and the exam boards, to ensure that exams in 2021 are fair."

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

Latest stories

Leadership: how to turn a failing school around

How to turn a failing school around

Rebuilding a school's shattered reputation isn't easy - but focus on belonging, brilliant staff and behaviour and you'll get there, writes Chris Edwards
Chris Edwards 22 Oct 2021
Staff surveys can be key to help uncover what CPD will really have an impact

How to use surveys to focus staff development plans

Staff surveys can be great for uncovering what teachers really want - but you need to ensure they ask the right questions and the insights are properly understood. Here's how you can do just that
Chris Lindop 22 Oct 2021