GCSE and A-Level exams could be delayed next year

1 September 2020, 00:16

Next year's exams could be delayed, the education secretary has admitted
Next year's exams could be delayed, the education secretary has admitted. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Next year's GCSE and A-Level exams could be delayed to give pupils more time to catch up with the syllabus, the Education Secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson told the Daily Telegraph that Ofqual - England's regulator for exams - was contemplating whether there should be a "short delay" to 2021's exam timetable.

The organisation has been working with the education sector to establish the most appropriate plans for next year.

Mr Williamson said: "I know there's some concern about next year's exams, and that's why we've been working with Ofqual on changes we can make to help pupils when they take GCSEs and A-levels next year.

"Ofqual will continue to work with the education sector and other stakeholders on whether there should be a short delay to the GCSE, A and AS-level exam timetable in 2021, with the aim of creating more teaching time."

Despite usually beginning in May, the newspaper claimed the exam season could be delayed until June and July, according to its sources.

However, it added that the exams would not be pushed back into the summer holidays.

The education secretary's comments follow the Labour Party's call for next year's exams to be pushed back and come on the eve of many schools in England reopening to all pupils for the first time since March.

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said pupils entering Year 11 and 13 who have lost up to half a year of teaching time face "a mountain to climb" unless changes are made to the timetable.

She said: "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."

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said: "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."