To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Department for Health and Social Care about reducing the risk of covid-19 disruption and absences in the run up to the upcoming assessment and exams period in schools and colleges; and if he will (a) communicate to schools that they can use any stocks of lateral flow tests held locally and (b) make free testing available for all pupils, staff and exam invigilators to cover this period.
Candidates and centres should adhere to the guidance on living with COVID-19.
Candidates are expected to attend their exams wherever possible, and school and college staff should encourage them to do so. However, where that is not possible, exam boards have taken measures to support students to access a grade, including spacing the exam timetable with at least ten days between the first and last exam in each subject. They have also confirmed that eligible students completing one assessment (exam or non-exam assessment) will be able to receive a grade through special consideration, provided they have an acceptable reason for missing the other assessments.
A candidate who is staying at home and avoiding contact with others, in line with UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) guidance, would be eligible to apply for special consideration to receive a grade based on the other assessments they complete. This includes candidates with the symptoms described in the UKHSA guidance, and those with a positive COVID-19 test result.
Public health advice continues to be that testing in education and childcare settings is no longer needed. Most infectious diseases in education and childcare settings can be managed by following the advice in UKHSA’s updated health protection in education and childcare settings guidance. Students and staff should follow UKHSA’s advice for those who have symptoms.
Although schools and colleges may still have some unused test kits in stock, they should not continue to hand out test kits to staff or students. The department is working with UKHSA to explore options for removal of testing resources no longer required.