Labour calls for exams 'Plan B' to stop pupils losing out

Gavin Williamson has been urged to publish an exams "Plan B" to ensure that no West Midlands pupils are unfairly disadvantaged due to Covid restrictions.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

The Education Secretary insists that GCSE and A-level exams will go ahead next year, despite the pandemic forcing thousands of pupils across the region to miss out on face-to-face learning.

Labour has today called for "regional adjustments" to make sure that pupils who have had to self-isolate face a level playing field when they sit exams.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green wants to see students offered a greater choice of questions, das well as reserve papers in subjects if they miss out on teaching due to the pandemic.

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In the West Midlands nearly 500,000 schoolchildren will be under Tier 3 restrictions from tomorrow, many of whom have already been forced to take blocks of two weeks off due to schools following Covid guidance.

Ms Green warned that many disadvantaged pupils did not have the required equipment at home to learn remotely.

She said the Government had "dithered and delayed" over exams, creating "huge stress for pupils, teachers and parents", and urged Ministers to put place "a credible Plan B" so pupils can be fairly graded even if disruption means exams do not go ahead.

"To ensure 2021 exams are truly fair to all pupils the Government should adopt Labour’s call for regional consideration, greater optionality in questions and reserve papers in all subjects so no child misses out," she said.

Mr Williamson, the MP for South Staffordshire, has announced that GCSE and A-level exams will be deferred by three weeks next year to give pupils time to catch up.

In the Commons last week he said extra support would be brought in for pupils in order to ensure "absolute fairness".

According to national data, there were almost one million children out of school due to coronavirus disruption last week.

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