GCSE and A-level students will receive teacher assessment grades in 2021 following the partial closure of schools and colleges – but the grades won’t be adjusted by an algorithm.
Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, confirmed in the House of Commons today that GCSE, AS and A-level exams will not go ahead this year, and that the government is “going to put our trust in teachers rather than algorithms”.
He said he wished “to use a form of teacher assessment grades, with training and support provided to ensure these awarded fairly and consistently across the country”.
It was announced on Monday that schools and colleges in England will move to online learning for all students except those classed as vulnerable and the children of key workers.
Prime minister Boris Johnson acknowledged at the time it would not be “fair” for exams to go ahead as normal.
Last year, the government was forced to abandon its system of calculated grades after around 40 per cent of centre-assessed A-level grades were downgraded by exam boards, prompted uproar.
Williamson said today that the government had “learned lessons” on exams after last year’s fiasco, during which the arrangements “did not deliver what they needed” with the impact felt “painfully by students and their parents”.
“Although exams are the fairest way we have of accessing what a student knows, the impact of this pandemic now means it is not possible to have these exams this year.
“I can confirm that GCSEs, A levels and AS level exams will not go ahead this summer. This year we are going to put our trust in teachers rather than algorithms.
“The department and Ofqual had already worked up a range of contingency options. 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 assessment grades, with training and support provided to ensure these awarded fairly and consistently across the country.”
Ofqual will launch a “detailed” consultation on the plans next week, Williamson added. It will run for two weeks.