We need fairness for students taking A-levels, GCSEs and vocational qualifications in 2021. The disastrous handling of the summer 2020 exam results must never happen again. #FairGrade2021

January 2021 update

In his announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January, including schools being closed to most pupils, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed A-level and GCSE exams would not go ahead in 2021.

In a speech to MPs on 6 January, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced plans to “put trust in teachers rather than algorithms” to award grades. Read our response to the announcement here.

Williamson claimed his department had prepared contingency plans involving teacher assessment being used to award A-level and GCSE grades in the event exams were cancelled. But the NEU and other organisations had made robust and constructive suggestions to the Government in October which weren’t taken up. Had the Education Secretary acted sooner, he would have saved students, parents and educators much anxiety and distress.

The NEU remains willing to work with the Government and Ofqual to get the fairest possible outcome for students. We will make clear that the system for teacher assessment and moderation cannot involve dumping further workload on a profession which is already hugely overstretched. Guidance and further information must be issued urgently to education staff and their students about how this process will work in practice.

It is also essential that urgent clarification is given to students working towards vocational and technical qualifications on how they will receive these and how awarding organisations will ensure no student is disadvantaged whether they take January exams or not.