Government to consult on delaying 2021 exam season

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.”