Summer exams will not “go ahead as normal” this year, the prime minister said tonight after announcing schools and colleges will close to most students from tomorrow.

Addressing the nation to announce a new national lockdown, Boris Johnson said primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across England will “move to remote provision from tomorrow except for vulnerable students and children of key workers” until at least the February half term.

He added that it is therefore “not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal”.

The educations secretary Gavin Williamson will “work together with Ofqaul to put in place alternative arrangements”.

However, the 135,000 BTEC and other technical exams being sat over the coming weeks will still go ahead as planned, the Department for Education confirmed after the prime minister’s speech.

On school and college closures, Johnson said: “I completely understand the inconvenience and distress this late change will cause millions of parents and pupils up and down the country.

“Parents whose children were in school today may reasonably ask why we did not take this decision sooner, and the answer is simply that we’ve been doing everything in our power to keep schools open because we know how important each day in education is to children’s life chances.

“And I want to stress that the problem is not that schools are unsafe for children. Children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by even the new variant of Covid. The problem is that schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.”

He added that he hoped the country could “steadily move out of lockdown, reopening schools after the February half term and starting cautiously to move regions down the tiers”.

The prime minister did not mention if these new restrictions would apply to other further education providers. FE Week has asked for clarification on this.

Tonight’s announcement comes just five days after Williamson announced the start date for college students in exam year groups had already been pushed back to January 11, with all learners due to go back on January 18 at the earliest.



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23 Comments

  1. Clive Ward

    If you are going to close ALL schools and colleges and look at alternative to Summer exams. Then this should be for ALL students, whether they take GCSE’s, A levels or Btecs.
    My son has his exams this year, 1 A level and 2 Btecs…he has Btec exams next week but not A level.
    Just another example of a lack of joined up thinking from Gavin Williamson.

  2. Louise moore

    What about all the home schooled children who were due to sit IGCSE or gcse exams as external candidates that won’t be able to submit coursework and therefore now not be able to attend the college they have been accepted to.

  3. Mrs haseeb

    My son is appearing privately for sciences and maths english from British council .if exams cancelled how he will be given expected grades. And in pakistan sept colleges will start how he will get admission

  4. IGCSE exams MUST be cancelled. Our school barely covered anything online. It would be unfair. Or at least make them easier for the people who need them to apply to schools.

  5. Eva Furtado

    We need clarity on IGCSE exams for UK students. It is unfair as Edexcel boards statement published saying IGCSE exams are going ahead this summer. It is unjust. Rules should be same for all UK students.

  6. I think going back to the school and doing the exams is very dangerous considering the increasing cases of COVID therefore this method is actually good for the students. Specially for A Level students as they have to apply for universities. They have been stressing for this quite a lot because doing online lessons is not the same as learning in school while discussing. This is an important exam therefore their minds should clear. I remember students asking what they might have to do incase of a panic attack/anxiety attack. Instead of putting them through so much pain, this is the best option.

  7. IGCSE must be cancelled.. all for one . My daughter if feeling so stressed and unfair .
    All children must be treated the s as me ref results….
    cancel them as no body feels they should happen

  8. Cambridge International Pre-U exams (equivalent to A Level) are still going ahead. Some students have 1 pre-u whilst others take 4 pre-u subjects. This puts those with more at a HUGE disadvantage. Nobody is speaking about this in the news, we would like our voices to be heard. These exams cannot go ahead, it is simply unjust.

    • I agree with Grace, this is a woefully unjust situation, my daughter is taking 3 Pre-U’s and feels under enormous stress as she goes into exams without the necessary teaching behind her. If the principle behind the cancellation of A-Levels and GCSE’s is that teaching has not been adequate then this applies to Pre-U too. Having Williamson has not whispered a word about Pre-U leaving thousands of pupils with uncertainty, another thoughtless act on behave of Gov.Uk.

  9. I can not see how the IGCSE’s will be able to go ahead in 2021.
    Our local exam centers are no longer taking exam entries, so we have had to register at an exam centre 3-4 hours drive away.
    Furthermore the impact Covid 19 has had in my daughter and her education is significant.
    Her learning has been disrupted, we have also had a very close family member die recently from Covid 19 and the impact has been terrible on her and the entire family.
    How can the government sit by and watch as some children are expected to sit exams after the year we have had, whilst the rest of the kids in the UK are teacher assessed?!?
    I CANNOT believe the government would allow these exams to go ahead!
    These are young people’s futures, we are discussing.
    “IGCSE kids LIVES MATTER!!”

    • Sandra Parry

      IGCSE students should not have to sit in exams this year but instead receive TA grades. It is too dangerous for children to sit exams in a venue, in fact ridiculous! Children should be given TA on the work they have done. It is totally wrong to expect young people to sit exams this year. Something needs doing NOW!

  10. Sandra Parry

    IGCSE students should not have to sit in exams this year but instead receive TA grades. It is too dangerous for children to sit exams in a venue, in fact ridiculous! Children should be given TA on the work they have done. It is totally wrong to expect young people to sit exams this year. Something needs doing NOW!

  11. year 9 student

    we have just chose our options for year 10 and only get 2 years studying them instead of 3. and i doubt the world is gonna go back to normal any time soon. we are gonna be in school then lockdown again its all online and its nothing like being in school. im so worried for my gcse’s. im doing the full Ebacc and im hoping to become a forensic pathologist. however being in lockdown for months on end and not going to school is messing up my head. same 4 walls. no motivation to get up. stuck alone, no socialization? cracking up being left alone with my thoughts. my question is whats happening with the year 9 upcoming gcses, is the average being brought down? because year 9-year 11 are not gonna do as well as we normally would. are we not going to do them? are colleges and unis going to take it into account?

  12. I have recived information that one’s child shall resit another year of school could anyone actually tell me if this is true please and i think that ones children should do there GSCE’s this year to let new children in and for them to have a chsnce and pass.