Teachers "need to know" of any "significant" changes to the 2022 GCSEs and A level exam series before the start of the next academic year, Ofqual chair Ian Bauckham has told Tes.
He said that teachers would need to be told if sections were being removed from exam papers, for example, by September.
Last month, the heads' NAHT union said teachers needed “real clarity” by the end of this term on how next year’s exams would work to avoid another year of "chaos".
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Mr Bauckham told Tes: "What we’re doing at the moment is working closely on the best possible arrangements for examination in 2022, and a number of different options are being explored and tested, including with some key stakeholders with interests in particular parts of the system and the way the pandemic has impacted on schools.
"Those decisions are not finalised, and you know, I think it’s right that we don’t rush into that, because we’ve only had young people back in school since the last lockdown for a matter of weeks, so let’s not barge into decisions too early for 2022."
Asked whether teachers would know about plans for exams next year by September, he said: "It depends, do they need to know before the start of the academic year – obviously if there are going to be any significant modifications, they do need to know that.
"What I would say to my own teachers is, carry on covering the specification, you can only cover what you can cover in the time available so just carry on working through that, if there are any changes you will be told in good time and I think everybody involved in making decisions is very, very aware of the risks of removing sections from examination that might already have been taught, because clearly that results in wasted teacher time.
"We’ll be very very aware of that, but I’m confident that schools and headteachers and teachers will know in time to make any adaptations that they might need to make in the light of those changes, if indeed there are any significant changes," he said, emphasising that no decision for 2022 had been "finalised" yet.