Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Government says 2021 exams 'will go ahead' as Labour calls for A-Level and GCSE delay
31 August 2020, 08:22
The government has said next year's GCSE and A-Level exams "will go ahead", as Labour calls for them to be pushed back to compensate for pupils being out of the classroom.
Student's education has been turned on its head this year, after coronavirus forced schools to close their gates and ditch exams in an attempt to stem the spread of the disease.
Results were then plunged into chaos after an algorithm used to calculate results meant hundreds of thousands of students had their predicted grades downgraded, forcing the government into a U-turn to to recognise teacher's predictions.
Pupils entering Year 11 and 13 now have a "mountain to climb", Shadow education secretary Kate Green said, having missed six months in the classroom this year.
Ms Green said exams due next May need to be delayed until June or July to facilitate extra teaching time.
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."
The government have said next year's exams will be going ahead next year, and will be a "priority".
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."
Labour has also 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."