Ofqual will “consult rapidly” on alternative arrangements for exams after it was announced last night they would not go ahead this summer “as normal”, with “a number of options” said to be on the table.
It comes amid confusion over whether all GCSEs and A-levels will be cancelled. Former education secretary Michael Gove claimed that would be the case this morning, but suggested other assessments could instead be used – and said officials were undecided on whether these would be moderated.
But exams regulator Ofqual said this morning it is “considering a number of options to ensure the fairest possible outcome in the circumstances”.
It added: “We know how difficult this must be for students, teachers and lecturers. We wish at all costs to avoid arrangements for this summer’s GCSEs, A levels and vocational and technical qualifications inflicting further disadvantage on students.”
The Daily Telegraph reported one option under consideration is that exams go ahead in core subjects, such as maths and English, with other subjects based on coursework.
Headteachers were told in an email last night that education secretary Gavin Williamson will be asking Ofqual to “consult rapidly on an approach for alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly”.
Williamson is due to make a statement tomorrow morning in the House of Commons.
Speaking on BBC’s Today programme this morning, Gove, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the government’s alternative arrangements will make sure the “hard work that students have put in to acquire knowledge and develop their skills is appropriately assessed, recognised and awarded”.
Asked whether it would involve testing or solely teacher assessments, he added: “The education secretary is talking to the exams regulator Ofqual in order to make sure we can have the best and most effective method of assessment.
“What we want to do is the method of assessment we have is as fair as possible and takes into account the effect that disruption has had.”
Today programme host Mishal Husain said: “It sounds if there may well be some form of testing involved?”
To which Gove replied: “One of the things about assessment is that it necessarily involves those students doing particular tasks which teachers will assess and whether or not they are moderated in a particular fashion by particular awarding bodies or by others is a delicate process.
“As we know from last year, it’s important to make sure that we have a fair system and that relies on making sure that we have appropriate methods of assessing the knowledge and skills that children acquire.”
Vocational exams due to be sat this month – some of which started today – will go ahead as planned, the government has said.