Gibb refuses to rule out centre-assessed GCSE grades

Schools minister also leaves open the option of using mocks as part of contingency plans for 2021 exams

Amy Gibbons

GCSE and A levels: The government has not ruled out using centre-assessed grades in 2021

The schools minister has declined to rule out the possibility that centre-assessed grades could be used as part of next year's exam series.

And asked if the government will be using mock exams to inform contingency plans, Nick Gibb did not give a clear answer, saying instead that "all these issues are subject to the discussions and the research and the work that's happening right now by Ofqual and the exam boards".

Appearing in front of the Commons Education Select Committee this morning, Mr Gibb said schools should not "pre-empt" what the government "might announce" later this term.

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Asked directly by Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis if the government was "definitely ruling out centre-assessed grades being used next year in any capacity", the schools minister was non-committal.

GCSEs and A levels 2021: What will the contingency plan be?

"I know there's a lot of teachers wanting to know should they be recording and gathering evidence in case of a Plan B, we have to go to that system," Mr Gullis said.

Mr Gibb responded: "Yes and I say to schools not to pre-empt what they think we might announce later in this autumn term.

"Our overwhelming objective is to make sure the exams go ahead. We want to keep schools open, and we want exams to go ahead in all circumstances.

"But we are working through contingencies, of course, and that's what we'll be saying more about in the next few weeks and months."

Mr Gibb was also non-committal on whether the government would use mocks as part of 2021 exams contingency plans, when asked about the prospect by Labour MP Fleur Anderson.

Ms Anderson said: "Obviously this year Covid happened after the mock results so there was a disparity then, and you were blindsided when the results actually came out.

"This year, the mocks will happen and they can be used to assess where we are in the year for a rapid analysis, and then potential changes to the Plan B that you've been talking about, as well as to exams, and more modules, for example, to level the playing field.

"Will you be using the mock exams to have a really good analysis of what's going across the country?"

Mr Gibb replied: "Well this is the issue of contingencies. And the main advantage we have for the 2021 exams compared with the sudden decision that had to be taken to close schools, and therefore the inevitable decision that had to be taken to cancel exams, is we have a little bit more time to address these issues."

He added: "We are now addressing those issues of contingencies, and that's what the exam boards and Ofqual and the department are working on now. And we'll have more to say about the contingencies that we'll put in place later in the autumn term."

Asked again "will you be looking at mocks as part of that?", Mr Gibb said: "All these issues are subject to the discussions and the research and the work that's happening right now by Ofqual and the exam boards. And we'll have more to say on these issues as the term goes on."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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