Commenting on the outcome of Ofqual's consultation into arrangements for next years exams and assessment, Amanda Brown, deputy general secretary at the National Education Union, said: 

“We're concerned that the Government has its head in the sand with its approach to GCSEs and A-Levels in England for 2021. The Government is going to need to adjust the content in GCSEs and A Levels beyond what was announced today. If the content isn't set at a realistic level, the results will become more a measure of which groups of students lost the most access to learning under Covid''. 

''The Secretary of State has acknowledged that not all students will have covered all elements of their course, or to the depth usually expected by the time they take their exams next summer. 

"We need to Covid proof examinations for next year, in order to allow consolidation, proper engagement within each subject and effective learning. Yet today's confirmation of business as normal for the content of most subjects next year makes insufficient allowance for the disruption this year and allows no contingency for any further disruption as a result of local or regional lockdowns. 

''The DfE and Ofqual have acknowledged that students have not had equal opportunities to access learning at home but the adaptations published so far aren't enough to counter that unfairness. Teachers will ask why it is possible to reduce content in many courses to more realistic levels in Wales but not in England. 

The NEU doesn't agree that fewer adaptations are necessary for A-Level students just because they are older. The same challenge faces A level students and teachers next year and content must be reduced to manageable and realistic levels if the awards next summer are to be a valid verdict on student's efforts. 

“It's sensible planning to reduce content in English literature GCSE but the DFE needs to take this approach and apply it to other subjects so all courses next year are enjoyable, manageable and engaging. Parents will expect courses to be realistic for their teenager and to reflect the disruption from Covid and teachers must be given courses to teach which are manageable and which enable them to support effective learning. ''