exams

Pearson is cancelling exams for its international GCSEs and A-level series and instead using teacher assessed grades.

The board said they had made the decision to “ensure a level playing field for all” and to protect the safety and wellbeing of students.

The qualifications are mostly taken by private schools because they do not count in league tables for state schools.

A Pearson spokesperson said: “We’ve undertaken a thorough review of the situation and listened to the views of the schools, parents and students we serve. Sadly, it is clear that with the ongoing global uncertainty and changing nature of the pandemic, it will not be possible to run exams without the risk of unintentionally disadvantaging individual students.

“The new approach will follow a rigorous process, ensuring all teachers can accurately and fairly assess their students. We will provide schools with fully comprehensive support as we move forward, and we will run additional exams in early autumn for any student wishing to take them.”

iGCSEs have not counted in school performance table since GCSEs were reformed. Since 2018, the majority of entries into iGCSEs in England were from pupils in independent schools – 94 per cent (163,971) – according to a report by the Department for Education in 2019.

The study also found that pupils who study iGCSEs are more likely to get top grades, but often underperform in their A-levels.

Cambridge International is continuing to prepare for its exams to take place this year.

A spokesperson said: “With regard to our schools in the UK, we are monitoring very carefully proposals from the Department for Education and Ofqual about alternative arrangements for awarding results for the June 2021 series in England. After the Ofqual consultation closes at the end of January, we will give more details about how we respond.

“We will continue to monitor the situation in the UK and around the world, and listen to feedback from our schools to see what further support they need.”

OxfordAQA, an international exam board, has also cancelled its exams. But they are only available outside of the UK.