All four exam boards running GCSEs and A levels in England have said they will offer rebates to schools on this year's fees.
The pledges are still vague in the main: Pearson Edexcel would only confirm there would be a rebate. AQA says it will only be able to confirm the value of its rebate after it knows its final costs, and OCR has also said it hopes to announce a rebate in July.
WJEC Eduqas is the only board to confirm the amount it will give schools as a rebate.
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The board, which is based in Wales but also offers English-style A levels and GCSEs, said it would reduce fees by 42 per cent this summer, equivalent to £9 million.
Ian Morgan, chief executive of WJEC Eduqas, said: "As a charity, we would never seek to take advantage of the current circumstances and are committed to reinvesting in continuously improving the support we provide to schools, colleges and learners, as we do every year."
GCSEs 2021: Exam boards to give schools rebates on fees
But he added: "Our fees not only cover the costs associated with running and delivering summer exams; they’re also needed to fund the development of new qualifications...
"Following the cancellation of this summer’s exams, we have developed a range of new systems and processes to ensure learners receive a valid grade this summer. We have also invested significantly in a new and extensive package of support to help schools and colleges assess their learners with confidence, including comprehensive training opportunities, assessment materials, exemplars and detailed professional guidance."
Yesterday, education secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs that he expected exam boards to offer fee rebates this year.
Most headteachers want a 75 per cent refund on exam fees, a survey published earlier this month suggests.
But the largest board, AQA, accused headteachers of “misunderstanding” the amount of work that exam boards were still doing this year.
However, today AQA said: "We can confirm that the money we normally spend on marking will be going to schools, for them to use in any way they choose.
"We’ll be able to confirm the full rebate when we know our final costs – which will be after all the policy decisions that affect our costs have been made. We hope to be able to do this by the summer holidays, and hopefully sooner.
"We understand the financial pressures that schools and colleges are under – so we’ve given them the option to pay 50 per cent of the published fees when they made their entries and, when we know what our final costs are, we’ll ask them for the difference. This means they won’t have to wait until we know our costs to benefit from any savings we make."
A spokesperson for OCR said: "The sheer hard work, professionalism and dedication schools and colleges have shown in deciding student grades over the last few months is amazing.
"We’ll confirm any savings from fees we can pass on in the form of a rebate as soon as we finalise the costs involved, and we hope to do this in July. In the interests of transparency, we will explain clearly in our communications how we’ve calculated this year’s rebate.
"Although we’re a not-for-profit organisation, we need to cover the costs involved in helping students to progress to their next phase and we’re investing substantial resources in IT systems, delivering assessment materials and guidance, in online training sessions and in running quality assurance checks. We’ll also be offering an exam series in the autumn."
Teachers have marked and assessed evidence to produce teacher-assessed grades for GCSEs and A levels following the cancellation of exams in 2021.