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It's too early to claim that exams should be pushed back, say headteachers

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Educators in the borough have said they think it is too soon to decide whether or not GCSE and A-level exams should be delayed due to the pandemic.

At the beginning of the month, as students prepared to return to school, the Labour Party said these important exams should be pushed back, because of virus’s impact on learning.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said students starting Year 11 and 13 in September had ‘a mountain to climb’, having missed months of schooling.

The party suggested that exams scheduled for May should happen as late as July to allow more catch-up time.

Schools in the borough have mixed feelings about the idea of delaying exams.

Neil Dimbleby, headteacher of Altwood School, said: “The way we were disrupted in the summer [this year] was very concerning for students and their parents. It’s been a difficult time for everybody.

“What we have to do is the right thing for the young people – what that looks like at the moment is the thing that’s still unclear.

“There’s sense in pushing back exams but there’s a huge knock-on effect – there’s a huge amount of enrichment activities that go on in the summer.

“We need clarity for the current Year 11s and Year 13s. At the moment there’s nothing for us to look at.”

James Wilding, head of senior boys and academic principal at Claires Court school, agreed that it was too early for a decision on the delay or cancellation of examinations.

“The longer term consequences for the students and the year groups to follow must be kept in mind,” he said.

He added that there was ‘merit’ in the idea of starting GCSEs and A-levels later in the summer term, so schools have the first half of term for teaching and learning.

“It makes no sense currently to lose almost all the summer term to exam halls,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said that the Government is working towards a solution with the exam boards and Ofqual, the department that regulates qualifications and exams in England.

“There are a range of measures proposed by Ofqual following a public consultation, including a possible short delay to the exam timetable and subject-specific changes to reduce pressure on teaching time,” the spokesperson said.

“[These] will ensure those young people taking exams next year have the same opportunities to progress as the students before them.”

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