Former Education Secretaries, Kenneth Baker and David Blunkett, call on the Government to recognise that GCSEs and A Levels should not be reintroduced in their present form in 2021.
Most students have lost six months of schooling and the start of primary and secondary schools in September is likely to be staggered resulting in a significant loss of taught lessons. Even if social distancing is reduced to 1 metre it will be challenging for many primary and secondary schools to return to full classes. Disadvantaged students have been particularly hit, many have not been able to join in the virtual lessons for lack of a laptop or having to share one within their family. More able children have done better and the better-off are more able to afford recovery programmes. The gap between them and the rest will grow. This gap cannot be caught up in one year. So, it is not fair that students will be expected to sit GCSEs and A Levels next year. The Exam Boards may consider reducing the content of these exams, but that will not compensate for the disparity in what had been taught and future perceptions of the exams themselves. Therefore we call upon the Government to announce that GCSEs and A Levels will not be reintroduced in their present form in 2021. This year teachers will make assessments for each of their students which is a new and challenging experience, but it gives us the chance to learn how to make sure these assessments are robust, consistent and fair, and to overcome the concerns already raised by teachers engaged in this exercise.
9 June 2020