Commenting on examinations and the continued position of Gavin Williamson on 2021 arrangements for England, Avis Gilmore, Deputy General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Any sensible observer can see there will not be a level playing field for exams in England next year, but we are of course not dealing with a sensible government. Where Scotland and Wales lead the way, England is once again running out the clock with plans for a three-week delay to 2021 exams and very little else.

“The consequences of dither and delay are clear. Attendance rates falter, with more students having to self-isolate and learn at home. All pupils missed a term of study in the summer, and whilst some have been able to attend schools and colleges since September, many pupils’ education is still being interrupted by episodes of self-isolation as the government’s own attendance figures show.

“The mistakes of 2020 must never happen again, but history now runs the risk of repeating itself. With different rates of pupil absences across the country due to Covid, the current approach to exams in England is increasingly untenable. Not all students are able to access their education equally. We need to see a reduction in what is assessed, and a serious conversation with the profession to ensure a robust national system of moderated centre-assessed grades.

“Decisive action is needed to ensure schools and colleges have a clear path forward, giving students and their families the reassurance that an examination system is in place that ensures fairness across the country.”

ENDS

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