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GCSE and A-level exams to be delayed by three weeks

PUBLISHED: 14:00 12 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:34 13 October 2020

This year's GCSE and A-level exams were cancelled in March due to coronavirus school closures. The exams will go ahead in 2021, but three weeks later than usual. Picture: Getty Images

This year's GCSE and A-level exams were cancelled in March due to coronavirus school closures. The exams will go ahead in 2021, but three weeks later than usual. Picture: Getty Images

Archant

Delaying next year’s A-level and GCSE exams by three weeks “will not make a significant difference”, according to the leader of a Norfolk group of schools.

Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of Inspiration Trust. Picture: Tom BarnesDame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of Inspiration Trust. Picture: Tom Barnes

Gavin Williamson, education secretary, has announced the delay for England’s secondary schools and sixth-form colleges in order to give students extra time to study following this year’s school closures because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the exams, which usually begin in May, will be delayed to June and July - apart from the English and maths GCSEs which will take place before the half-term. GCSE and A-level results would be given out to students in the same week in August following the change.

But Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust of academies which runs schools across Norfolk, including in Norwich, Cromer, Great Yarmouth, Thetford, said the delay would only make a limited difference.

She said: “Delaying exams by a few weeks will not make a significant difference to students - they have been preparing for these exams their entire school life.

“At Inspiration Trust schools we reopened in mid-August for Year 10s, we’re running half term revision sessions and summer school.”

Dame Rachel said exams were the fairest way to test students’ knowledge, which was important to have after a much-disrupted year.

She said: “Teachers have done a fantastic job helping children to continue their education during lockdown, but we know that teacher assessment disproportionately handicaps the most disadvantaged pupils. That’s why it’s so important that exams must take place in 2021.”

Dame Rachel said the exam system needed to be kept flexible. She said: “In the event of difficulties, moves must be made to support pupils. This will require flexibility around timings, and allowances for pupils who are unwell or self-isolating. Exam boards should also be open to giving pupils more choice over which questions they answer, so they do not need to study as much content as they would normally.”

James Gosden, headteacher of North Walsham High School, said his “initial reaction” was that the delay was a positive move.

Mr Gosden said: “The delay, alongside the curriculum adjustments, gives teachers the chance to address the learning gaps that have occurred due to the lockdown.

“Whilst some schools in areas of high infection rates will potentially be disadvantaged this seems the fairest way for students to gain a grade to represent that past 11 years of education.”


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