Government to consult on delaying 2021 exam season

2020 exams

The government is considering delaying the 2021 exam series until later in the summer, Gavin Williamson has revealed.

The education secretary told MPs this afternoon that the government would be “consulting with Ofqual about how we can move those exams back” to maximise teaching time.

It comes amid growing pressure on ministers to reveal their plans to make next year’s exams run smoothly, following the cancellation of this year’s series as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Williamson has previously said that exams will go ahead next year, following speculation that centre-assessed grades could be used again in 2021.

During education questions in the House of Commons today, Williamson was asked by Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke about his plans.

“My right honourable friend may have seen suggestions I have made about moving the 2021 exam season from May to July, to allow students and teachers more time in the classroom to complete the curriculum,” said Shelbrooke. “I wonder if my right honorable friend will be giving consideration to that or other matters to get extra teaching time in ready for the exam season.”

In response, Williamson said: “My honourable friend raises an important point about how do we add more teaching time in, and that’s why we will be consulting with Ofqual about how we can move those exams back, giving children extra time in order to be able to learn and really flourish and do incredibly well.”

An Ofqual spokesperson said: “We recognise students expecting to take exams next year, and their parents and teachers, are concerned about the disruption to teaching and learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are working closely with the Department for Education, exam boards and groups representing teachers, schools, colleges and students, to carefully consider a range of possible measures. We are planning to publish for consultation, before the end of term, our proposals for 2021.”

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  1. Donna

    Although I think this is a good idea, I hope it’s not too late in July. I like many others have moved our summer holiday to next year and as my son is studying so hard at home booked a special holiday for after his exams but before summer holidays! I’m sure I’ll not be the only parent to have done this

    • mck-teacher

      Indeed that’s what I would like to do for a very special year for us, an Alevel, a GCSE students and a 50th birthday. Wanted to really mark the occasion but with no dates yet published I am worried about when to book our long haul trip! Soon hopefully.

  2. Julia Williams

    Education is key, however, so areour lives. A lot of people have missed out on things this year and have already made plans for next year taking into account exams being in May/June. Expensive holidays have been rearranged to July 2021 which may now coincide with these exams – holidays that we will not be reimbursed for. Why not just reduce the content, increase the amount of study time, do open book exams. Why mess up everyone’s year again by changing dates.

  3. Amanda

    I agree with the above comments. We too have booked a Special holiday for the beginning of July As we are unable to go this year, the idea was it would be a treat after the exams. I also can’t honestly see how having exams another 4 weeks later will make up for all the time they have missed this year. Another option like coursework and predicted grades needs to be considered in my opinion.

  4. Linda

    The issue is how can you reduce content nationally. Some subjects may naturally teach the content in the same logical order but there is no restriction on centres to teach subjects such as History in any particular order. We had already done almost half the course when we went into lockdown so which topics would be cut? What if some centres had already covered that topic? It would be very difficult to get a consistent mark scheme if candidates were answering different questions/papers.

  5. Penny

    Speaking as a school staff member who works in exams, this would cause more disruption and have knock on effects across schools. The whole process involved to run exams, staff them, the marking, the processing of results, issuing of results etc. All this ties in with what follows also College and University enrolments everything would be affected. Younger students would also be impacted in the final weeks of the summer term with Yr6 transition processes unable to operate if exams are still in full swing. The logistics within schools of trying to completely adjust the calendar around ‘everything else’ it is not just about exams. An additional 2 to 4 weeks teaching time cannot replace the time lost now, it would make more sense to reduce the content of the examined part of subjects and potentially have a mix of centre assessed grades and some exams next year to ensure students aren’t disadvantaged. Moving exam dates on would be devastating to family life also as others have already said, family celebrations, re-scheduled holidays, school prom, educational visits to other countries which generally take place at this time.
    This shows a complete lack of understanding of the bigger picture.

  6. Elizabeth

    As a student due to sit my A-levels next year I think more focus should be put into our predicted grades and coursework than postponing exams. While I am not saying that a social life is more important than school work and grades, that summer will be the last one before I go to university and leave my family. For that reason and many others I don’t think it’s fair for them to take away our summer, it’s a crucial cool down for us after our A-levels before beginning the rest of our lives as adults.

  7. Alexis

    I feel the same as the above comments, I do not feel four weeks at the end will give my daughter more, open this August while travel is limited and families won’t be affected, also my daughter this year was unable to sit her exams and has not had any extra support which I feel is awful, we have changed our family holiday to first week of July next year due to having to cancel this year, if this is going to happen then actions need to be set in place to travel agents have to support this change and not charge us to change amend our holidays, we have all suffered enough,