Coronavirus: What could happen to GCSEs and A Levels?

18 March 2020, 17:54 | Updated: 19 March 2020, 11:37

By Fiona Jones

GCSEs and A-Levels will not take place in May and June, the Prime Minister has announced.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told the House of Commons: "I can confirm that we will not go ahead with assessments or exams and that we will not be publishing performance tables for this academic year.

"We will work with the sector and Ofqual to ensure that children get the qualifications that they need.

"My department is working closely with local authorities, representatives of early years schools and headteachers, regional schools, commissioners and bodies such as Ofsted and Ofqual about how to deliver this change as effectively as possible.

"And we will do whatever is necessary to support local authorities, schools and teachers through the weeks and months ahead."

Exams should be postponed to July, former examiner says
Exams should be postponed to July, former examiner says . Picture: PA

Previously, former chief examiner Tony Breslin told LBC last week about what might happen to GCSEs and A Levels during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Department of Health has said there have now been 1,543 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK - an increase of 171 from Sunday. After these updates, Mr Breslin suggested to Nick Ferrari how the examinations could work moving forward.

"The first thing we need is to create certainty for parents, children and teachers," the former chief examiner said, stressing that for the exam season "we're talking about postponement rather than cancellation."

He stressed that we need a system-wide solution as opposed to educational institutions making decisions individually.

To avoid schedules clogging, the examinations expert claimed that "the solution lies in moving the sitting of A-Levels from the beginning of June to the beginning of July" and then delay the start of the university year by four weeks.

Mr. Breslin continued that GCSEs could even be pushed back to the beginning of September because they generally are not the end of school exams in the way that they used to be.

Nick wondered how the changes could affect the course selections of students going into their A and AS Levels, giving them less opportunity to reflect on their results and perhaps change their courses based on their grades.

Mr Breslin assured Nick that this wouldn't be an issue, proposing that students could "choose courses based on their predicted grades" but also have a transition period between sitting their GCSEs and beginning their A and AS Level courses.

35 people who've tested positive for the infection have now died in the UK. It has been predicted up to 7.9 million people could require hospital treatment in the UK over the next 12 months.

Read more: coronavirus updates LIVE

You can watch Tony Breslin's initial interview with Shelagh Fogarty from last week below.