ASCL responds to Education Secretary’s statement on exams

06/01/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to the Education Secretary’s statement today about arrangements for GCSEs, A-levels, and other qualifications following the decision to cancel this summer’s exams.
 
Responding to the Education Secretary’s statement today about arrangements for GCSEs, A-levels, and other qualifications following the decision to cancel this summer’s exams, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“The Education Secretary’s vague statement does not take us a great deal further forward other than to set out the broad parameters for the exam regulator Ofqual to work out a detailed plan.
 
“It is all very well to insist that there are contingencies in place and that it is now a case of fine-tuning. But what are these contingencies and how much fine-tuning is needed?
 
“It is the detail which is all important and which schools and colleges urgently need.
 
“It is frustrating that there is not an off-the-shelf Plan B ready to go. We have repeatedly called on the government and the regulator to prepare such a plan in the event of exams being cancelled, and have repeatedly offered to work with them in doing so.
 
“However, ministers have been so busy insisting that exams will take place that they have failed to ensure that there is a contingency system which can be immediately rolled out. This is, frankly, a dereliction of duty.
 
“Ofqual now faces a race against time to come up with the ‘fine-tuning’ of a credible alternative to exams.
 
“There will be many different views on how this is best done.
 
“What any system must achieve is fairness and consistency. It must ensure pupils receive grades which reflect their efforts, recognise the different extent to which learning has been disrupted, and give reassurance that the same standard is applied across the country.
 
“There is also a real need for urgency about this because these young people, and their schools and colleges, need to know what they are planning for very soon.
 
“What the government and Ofqual must certainly avoid is a repeat of the shambles of last summer.”