Teacher assessments will replace GCSE and A-level exams this summer

GCSE, AS and A-level exams in England this summer will be replaced by school assessments, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed.

Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 3:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 3:12 pm

This afternoon (Wednesday, January 6), Mr Williamson told MPs that the Government will put its “trust in teachers, rather than algorithms”.

The Education Secretary acknowledged that exams are the “fairest way” of assessing what a student knows, but said the impact of the pandemic meant it was not possible to hold exams in the summer.

Mr Williamson told MPs that SATs exams will also not be going ahead this year across England.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

GCSE, AS and A-level exams in England this summer will be replaced by school assessments, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed. Pic credit: PA Wire/PA Images

His comments in the House of Commons came after the Government announced that schools and colleges in England would be closed to most pupils until at least mid-February amid the new national lockdown.

He told the Commons: “While the details will need to be fine-tuned in consultation with Ofqual, the exam boards and teaching representative organisations.

“I can confirm now that I wish to use a form of teacher-assessed grades with training and support provided to ensure these are awarded fairly and consistently across the country.”

The grading of GCSE and A-level students in England became a fiasco last summer when end-of-year exams were cancelled amid school closures.

Thousands of A-level students had their results downgraded from school estimates by a controversial algorithm, before Ofqual announced a U-turn, allowing them to use teachers’ predictions.

But speaking this afternoon, Mr Williamson said he wishes to use a form of teacher-assessed grades to award results rather than an algorithm.

He said Ofsted will enforce legal requirements for state schools to provide high-quality remote education.

He said: “We expect schools to provide between three and five hours teaching a day, depending on the child’s age.

“If parents feel their child’s school is not providing suitable remote education they should first raise their concerns with the teacher or headteacher and, failing that, report the matter to Ofsted.”

The decision is another u-turn from Boris Johnson's Government, after Mr Williamson gave an “absolutely” cast-iron guarantee last month that exams in England would not be cancelled this academic year.

Addressing his previous pledge, shadow education secretary Kate Green said: “At that moment we should have known they were doomed to be cancelled.”

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Green said: “It was disappointing (Gavin Williamson) did not make a new year’s resolution to avoid U-turns or chronic incompetence.

“Once again where the Secretary of State goes, chaos and confusion follows and it’s children, families and education staff across the country who pay the price for his incompetence.”

It is more important than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.

For unlimited access to the latest Lancashire news and information online, you can subscribe here.