School Closures: Support for Pupils — [Dame Angela Eagle in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:43 am on 13th January 2021.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 10:43 am, 13th January 2021

Yes. That will be made clear in the exchange of letters between Ofqual and the Secretary of State this morning. The hon. Gentleman will see more detail of the proposals for private candidates in the consultation document that will be jointly published by Ofqual and the Department for Education this week.

Although exams are the fairest method we have of assessing what a student knows, we cannot guarantee that all students will be in a position to sit exams fairly this summer. That is why GCSEs, and A-level and AS-level exams, will not go ahead as planned this summer. We have confirmed that we will use a form of teacher-assessed grades, with training and support provided by exam boards, to ensure that they are awarded fairly and consistently. This week Ofqual and the Department for Education will, as I have said, publish a consultation document setting out the details of the proposed arrangements for awarding grades. We have been working on those proposals for many months in anticipation that we would be in the position we are now in. There are similar proposals in relation to vocational and technical qualifications, but they are varied and different forms of assessment, and we have a separate consultation on that, to be published this week as well.

To give the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington time to respond, I will conclude by saying that we have taken the steps I have described to help to mitigate the impact of covid-19 on pupils. The measures will ensure that they can continue to have access to a high-quality education and that we shall continue to close the attainment gap across the country. I again thank and pay tribute to all our dedicated teachers, school and college leaders, and support staff for the extraordinary work that they are doing to help to minimise the impact of this terrible pandemic on the education and life chances of their pupils.