To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with Ofqual on provision of updated guidance to educational institutions on the summer 2020 (a) examinations and (b) final assessments.
As my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, announced to the House on 18 March, the Government has taken the difficult decision to cancel all examinations due to take place in schools and colleges in England this summer, as part of the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Along with my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, I have been in regular communication with Ofqual to ensure that we provide timely advice to educational institutions on alternative arrangements.
The Department’s priority for GCSE and A-level students is to ensure they can move on as planned to the next stage of their education, including starting college, sixth form courses or apprenticeships, in the autumn. We will ensure they are awarded a grade which reflects their work. Our intention is that a grade will be awarded this summer based on the best available evidence, including any non-examination assessment that students have already completed. On 3 April, Ofqual published details for schools, colleges, parents and carers on how GCSEs and A Levels will be awarded:
The Department recognises that some students may nevertheless feel disappointed that they have not been able to sit their examinations. If they do not believe the correct process has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an examination, as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the new academic year. Students will also have the option to sit their examinations in summer 2021.
There is a very wide range of vocational and technical qualifications, as well as other academic qualifications, for which students were expecting to sit examinations this summer. These are offered by a large number of awarding organisations and have differing assessment approaches. In many cases, students will already have completed modules or non-examination assessment which could provide evidence to award a grade. The Department is encouraging these organisations to show the maximum possible flexibility and pragmatism to ensure students are not disadvantaged. Ofqual is working urgently with the sector to explore options and will provide more details shortly.