Most exams in England will take place next year with three-week delay

Next year’s exams are to go ahead in England, but most will be delayed for three weeks to allow schools additional teaching time, the government has said.

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, confirmed GCSEs and A-levels would be held in the summer, with small curriculum adjustments already outlined by the qualifications regulator Ofqual.

The summer exam series will start on 7 June 2021 and end on 2 July for almost all AS/A-levels and GCSEs. Results days will be held on Tuesday 24 August for A/AS levels and Friday 27 August for GCSEs to enable students to start the following academic year as normal.

Williamson said: “Fairness to pupils is my priority, and will continue to be at the forefront of every decision we take in the lead up to exams next summer.

“Exams are the fairest way of judging a student’s performance so they will go ahead, underpinned by contingency measures developed in partnership with the sector.

“Students have experienced considerable disruption and it’s right we give them, and their teachers, the certainty that exams will go ahead and more time to prepare.

“Combined with our £1bn atch-up programme and the changes proposed by Ofqual to free up teaching time, the changes I am announcing today give young people the best chance of being ready for their exams without undermining the value of the qualifications they receive.

“I will continue to work closely with stakeholders and I’m grateful for the commitment and willingness that’s been shown in delivering this additional time to ensure young people have the best opportunity to succeed.”

The government said one maths and one English GCSE exam would be held just before the May half-term, to give any year 11 pupils affected by Covid-19 the best chance of completing a paper in each of these core subjects. Ministers will continue to work with Ofqual and the sector to develop contingency planning for all potential scenarios.

Last week the Scottish government said it would not hold exams for its National 5 qualification, its equivalent of GCSEs, and would instead award grades using a new system of school assessments. The timetable for Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers – the equivalent of A-levels – will be delayed.

A-level, AS and GCSE exams in Northern Ireland will start one week later in 2021 but will still finish by 30 June. However, schools have been told to keep evidence of pupils’ progress in case it is needed as part of contingency arrangements. Wales is yet to announce its exams plans.

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