GCSE and A-level exams will be cancelled for the second year in a row, prime minister Boris Johnson indicated tonight.
The exams will not take place "as normal" in 2021 due to the Covid crisis and the rise in infections caused by the new variant.
Mr Johnson said: "Because we have to now do everything we possibly can to stop the spread of the disease, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England must move to a remote provision from tomorrow except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
"We recognise that this means it’s not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal.
GCSE and A-level exams: 'Alternative arrangements' to be put in place
"The education secretary will work with Ofqual to put in place alternative arrangements."
Natalie Perera, chief executive of the Education Policy Institute think tank, said: "While closing schools is always difficult and undesirable, the government has rightly acted on the best available health advice by closing schools for a prolonged period.
"Given the amount of school time that pupils will have lost last year and this year, the apparent decision to cancel GCSE and A-level exams this summer is sensible.
"It will also allow pupils more time in the summer term to catch up on lost learning rather than being on study leave. There may also be wellbeing benefits for young people."
Both GCSE and A-level exams were cancelled last year after the first wave of the pandemic forced schools to close in March.
It was initially decided that students would be graded by an algorithm devised by Ofqual, but the exam regulator later U-turned on its plans, choosing to revert to unmoderated teacher-assessed grades.