In light of the alarming spread of the new Covid-19 variant, the Government reluctantly has had to limit attendance at schools and colleges, to reduce the number of contact that pupils are having with other households.
The closure of education settings means that it will not be possible, or fair, for schools to proceed with exams as normal, given the disparity in attendance. Whilst the government remains clear that exams are the fairest method to assess students, given the disruption, it has been decided that students taking their GCSEs, AS and A levels should be awarded grades based on an assessment by their teachers. Primary assessments also cannot continue as intended, therefore statutory key stage 1 and 2 tests, and teacher assessments planned for summer 2021, will be cancelled.
Schools and colleges will be allowed to continue with the vocational and technical qualification (VTQ) exams in January, where they judge it is safe to do so. This is because these students will have completed their learning and prepared for their exams, so it is right that schools and colleges are given an option to run them. Some VTQs taking place from February and into the summer however, will not go ahead.
For VTQs that require a practical assessment to demonstrate occupational competency or a licence to practice, the Government believes that the assessments should continue to take place, subject to public health guidance.
Ofqual, with the department, have launched a two-week consultation which seeks views on how to fairly award all pupils with a grade that supports them to progress to the next stage of their lives. This will be based on teacher-assessment, with training and guidance provided to support teachers to make their assessments fairly and consistently.