Labour calls for GCSE and A Level delay as pupils prepare for classroom return
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A-level and GCSE exams in England should be delayed next year to allow pupils to catch up on months of lost work, the Labour Party has said.
Pupils entering Year 11 and 13 face “a mountain to climb” unless the timetable is changed, Shadow education secretary Kate Green warned.
Ms Green said exams due next May need to be delayed until June or July to allow students to catch up on up to six months of teaching time swallowed up by school closures.
In a statement on Sunday, the shadow education secretary said: “Pupils across the country who have missed out on vital teaching time will have a mountain to climb to prepare for May exams unless the Government steps in.
“Ministers had warning after warning about problems with this year’s exam results, but allowed it to descend into a fiasco.
“This is too important for Boris Johnson to leave until the last minute. Pupils heading back to school need clarity and certainty about the year ahead.”
He has faced intense pressure after the Government U-turn, which saw a controversial algorithm abandoned in favour of relying on teachers’ assessments of the grades pupils should receive.
An Ofqual spokeswoman said: “There are no plans to cancel either GCSEs or A-levels in 2021. There are also currently no plans to curtail programmes of study.
“But we keep all plans constantly under review because the progress of the pandemic is uncertain.”
Meanwhile, Labour is urging ministers to review the existing support arrangements for post-16 students so that pupils preparing to sit their A-levels are not left without help.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “What is most important is that we don’t see a repeat of this year’s chaos.
“Poor planning and last-minute changes by the Government caused misery for many students. It would be indefensible if that happened again.
“Labour’s suggestion of a delay to help with ‘catch-up’ is worthy of serious consideration.
“A delay is not without its problems, a consequential delay to the publication of results will put pressure on higher education providers such as universities and colleges as well as employers. All this will need to be dealt with.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We recognise that students due to take exams next summer will have experienced disruption to their education, which is why we prioritised bringing Year 10 and Year 12 pupils back to school last term.
“Exams will go ahead next year, and we have been working closely with the sector, Ofqual and exam boards to consider our approach.”
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