GCSEs and A-levels could be later next summer, says education secretary

GCSEs and A levels could be taken later in the year than usual to give children more time in the classroom before exams, the education secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson said the exam regulator would be consulted to work out how this could be done.

Schools started welcoming more children back earlier this month after being shut for weeks due to coronavirus, with only vulnerable children and children of key workers allowed in.

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Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke brought up the suggestion of moving the exam season – which usually starts in May – to July next year in light of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

He said this would “allow students and teachers more time in the classroom to try and complete the curriculum”.

Mr Williamson said Mr Shelbrooke “raised an important point about how do we add more teaching time in” on Monday.

“That is why we will be consulting with Ofqual about how we can move those exams back,” the education secretary told parliament, “giving children extra time in order to be able to learn and really flourish and do incredibly well.”

Mr Shelbrooke later tweeted his proposal for the 2021 exam season would allow pupils to have “pre-exam catch-up time in the classroom following Covid-19”.

Scotland’s education secretary told the BBC earlier this month something similar might happen north of the border, where exams are normally sat in the spring.

“It normally starts in late April, it might be possible that we could start it later in the year,” John Swinney said.

Schools in England shut in late March in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus, although children from certain year groups were allowed back from 1 June.

GCSEs and A-level exams usually taken in the summer term have also been cancelled this year due to the pandemic.

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