A level and GCSEs in 2021 delayed but will go ahead

Nicole Wootton-Cane
Nicole Wootton-Cane

13 October 2020 • 2 min read

GCSE and A level exams in England are set to go ahead next summer, but with delays and reduced content for some subjects.

Most exams will take place from 7 June – three weeks later than usual – except for English and Maths GCSEs, which will take place before the half-term break.

The delays are due to significant amounts of missed teaching due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, critics say that more needs to be done to ensure that students have a fair chance of succeeding in exams under such difficult circumstances – including increased question choices.

The news follows Scotland’s decision to cancel National 5 qualifications and replace them with teacher assessments and coursework, whilst still going ahead with Highers.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said that "Exams are the fairest way of judging a student's performance so they will go ahead, underpinned by contingency measures developed in partnership with the sector.

"Students have experienced considerable disruption and it's right we give them, and their teachers, the certainty that exams will go ahead and more time to prepare."

However, there is frustration over the lack of clarity of these “contingency measures”, with some arguing that children in the North of England will be unfairly disadvantaged, as they have suffered the most disruption to teaching and learning. 

Gavin Williamson said other measures would be decided later. 

There are also concerns that a delay in exams will simply mean more exams crammed into a shorter space of time, which could also disadvantage students. 

Some modifications to exams will be made – including removing field trips from geography and reducing the areas needing to be covered in English literature – but critics have called this merely “tinkering at the edges”.

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Nicole Wootton-Cane
Written By
Nicole Wootton-Cane

Nicole lives in Manchester and is a Content Writer and Editor at Edvoy and journalist.


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