Gavin Williamson to sign off on 2021 exam delays

Gavin Williamson is expected to rubber stamp plans to delay next year's GCSE and A-level exams, the Express & Star understands.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

Ministers have drawn up plans for delays of between two and three weeks for the 2021 exams, allowing teachers to "maximise the amount of learning time" after the disruption caused by Covid-19.

The measures are expected to be officially announced next week and will mean results day for both sets of exams will be pushed back.

Number 10 has come under increasing pressure to scrap exams for another year, a move which Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is vehemently against.

Last month's return to school was the first time all students were allowed back in the classroom since March, and followed a summer of chaos over how exam grades were calculated.

Since the start of term thousands of pupils have been sent home to self-isolate following Covid cases in schools, prompting concerns from Ministers about the amount of face-to-face teaching time lost.

South Staffordshire MP Mr Williamson has raised the issue of potential delays to next year's exams with the Education Select Committee, while a public consultation was launched in July.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE), said: "We expect exams to take place next year and continue to work with Ofqual and the exam boards on our approach, recognising that students will have experienced considerable disruption to their education in the last academic year."

"There are a range of measures proposed by Ofqual following a public consultation, including a possible short delay to the exam timetable and subject-specific changes to reduce pressure on teaching time."

Former Education Secretary Lord Baker has called for GCSE and A levels to be cancelled next year due to the continued disruption to learning caused by the pandemic.

The Tory peer has written to Mr Williamson urging him to accept that teacher assessment "will have to be used again next year".

In the letter he said the Government would need to send guidance to schools on "the sort of report that teachers should be keeping for each student now, not only on attendance, but on performance as the weeks and months go by."

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