No summer exams 'as good a compromise as we can come to', PM says

25 February 2021, 16:16

By Harriet Whitehead

No summer exams and teacher-assessed grades are "as good a compromise as we can come to", Boris Johnson has said.

The Government announced on Thursday that GCSE and A-Level pupils will be given teacher-assessed grades earlier in August so they have more time to appeal their results after chaos in 2020.

Addressing the plans for grading on a visit to Accrington Academy in Lancashire on Thursday morning, the Prime Minister said: "I think this is as good a compromise as we can come to. I think it will be fair, I think it will be durable and it's the right way forward."

He added: "In an ideal world you would not have taking kids out of school because of a pandemic, we would not have been forced to do this. And in an ideal world we would be continuing with exams as you normally have them".

Read more: Education Secretary insists exam system will be fair and says ‘no algorithm’ will be used

The Prime Minister said "the best place for kids is in school" and defended his plans to see pupils return on March 8th.

Johnson added: "What we are doing is the right thing to get all our students and pupils back on March 8th. I think that is what parents, teachers, and overwhelmingly, what pupils want to do".

Boris Johnson meets with Year 11 students in the canteen during a visit to Accrington Academy
Boris Johnson meets with Year 11 students in the canteen during a visit to Accrington Academy . Picture: PA

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The decision to not hold exams has drawn some criticism with concerns over grade inflation. Nonetheless, the government is keen to avoid the exams fiasco which students faced last year.

This saw an algorithm ditched after complaints that it unfairly downgraded pupils' grades. Teacher-assessed grades will be based on mock exams, coursework, essays and in-class work.

Johnson tweeted that "no child should be left behind" because of disruption to learning during the pandemic.

Teachers will submit grades to exam boards by 18 June, to allow as much teaching time as possible before teachers make their assessments.

Results days for GCSE, A level and some vocational qualifications will take place in the week of 9 August – moved forward from the week of the 23 August.

These earlier dates are to provide additional time for appeals to be completed. Every student will have the right to appeal their grade.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "Young people have shown incredible resilience over the last year, continuing with their learning amidst unprecedented challenges while the country battles with this pandemic. Those efforts deserve to be fairly rewarded.

"That’s why we are providing the fairest possible system for those pupils, asking those who know them best – their teachers – to determine their grades, with our sole aim to make sure all young people can progress to the next stage of their education or career."