Assessments: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 4th November 2021.

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Photo of Kim Leadbeater Kim Leadbeater Labour, Batley and Spen

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what arrangements are in place for pupils sitting forthcoming examinations who have not had access to wifi and have subsequently missed lessons during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister of State (Education)

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the department has provided support for over 110,000 families to get online through uplifts in mobile data and 4G wireless routers. On 26 August 2021, we announced funding to support schools and colleges in providing internet access for disadvantaged pupils whose face-to-face education is disrupted during the Autumn term. The department is also continuing to provide 4G wireless routers for pupils without internet access.

Alongside a strong core funding settlement which will see core schools funding rise by £4.7 billion by the 2024-25 financial year compared to existing plans, the department has committed an additional £1.8 billion of recovery funding, bringing total investment for specific education recovery interventions to almost £5 billion.

This latest investment is targeted at those we know will need it most; delivering a universal uplift of hours for those with the least time left in education, in 16-19 settings, as well as £1 billion of flexible funding for schools. This follows the evidence-backed investment in tutoring and training for teachers, that is being delivered now.

The department recognises that those students taking exams next year have had considerable disruption to their education and, together with Ofqual, we have confirmed adaptations to exams to take account of that. The package of adaptations includes a choice of topics or content on which students will be assessed in GCSE English literature, history, ancient history, and geography, and advance information of the focus of exams in all other GCSEs and all AS and A level subjects to support revision. These changes will apply to assessments and exams in summer 2022 and GCSE English language and maths exams in November 2022.

Ofqual’s approach on grading for 2022 also recognises the disruption experienced by students taking exams next year. Ofqual has confirmed 2022 will be a transition year for grading and has set out its plans for grades to be set around a mid-point between 2021 and pre-COVID grades.

In addition, there is currently a series of autumn exams taking place that are optional for students. The autumn 2021 exam series will provide an opportunity for students who may wish to improve their teacher assessed grade to sit an exam. Ofqual's consultation considered the fairest possible arrangements for exams this autumn.

Ofqual announced the grading arrangements for the autumn 2021 exam series on 30 September 2021. Exam boards will seek to align autumn 2021 grading with summer 2021. This is the same approach as in autumn 2020, when grading was aligned to summer 2020.

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