Gavin Williamson announcement: what did the Education Secretary say in his statement today about cancelled exams?

BTec exams are due to go ahead despite other exams being cancelled
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Following Boris Johnson’s announcement on 4 January, teachers, students and parents have been expected to support and engage in homeschooling.

Schools in England are now closed until mid-February and the impact on learning will be significant due to the inconsistencies in homeschooling.

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The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has now mapped out which exams will be cancelled and what will replace them in a televised statement.

The Education Secretary is expected to announce exam changes (Picture: BBC)The Education Secretary is expected to announce exam changes (Picture: BBC)
The Education Secretary is expected to announce exam changes (Picture: BBC)

Here is everything we know.

Are exams cancelled?

On 6 January, Mr Williamson told the House of Commons that the Summer exam diet will be scrapped, replaced with “"the contingency plans (he) had prepared but had hoped (would) never had to implement.”

This means children will now be assessed by their teachers and “accurately and fairly” graded.

The Education Minister added: “"While the details will need to be fine-tuned in consultation with (the regulator) Ofqual, the exam boards and teaching representative organisations I can confirm now that I wish to use a form of teacher-assessed grades, with training and support provided, to ensure these are awarded fairly and consistently across the country.”

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BTec and vocational exams are expected to go ahead later this month, however he has also stressed colleges should feel no pressure to continue with these either.

SATS will also be cancelled this year, a set of exams taken by primary school pupils.

What will replace exams?

School pupils and college students will be graded on a range of assessments, none of which would take place in an exam style setting.

As schools in England are anticipated to reopen in February, there is still an opportunity for pupils to return to the classroom and re-engage in on-campus learning.

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Mr Williamson told the parliament he would not “let schools be closed for a moment longer than they need to be”.

Therefore, physical assessments could still take place, which often forms part of a child’s GCSE and A-level grade in subjects such as Chemistry and Physical Education.

However, until Ofqual are consulted, the intricacies of the new assessment model will remain unknown to teachers and students.

How will students be graded?

Teachers are expected to assess their own students’ learning through various methods, such as at-home assessments and school work.

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Following on from the controversial algorithmic grading which took place in the summer of 2020 and resulted in thousands of underprivileged children being downgraded, a different approach will be taken this year.

Last year, the government u-turned on their original grading method and instead awarded school pupils the marks their teachers would have anticipated for them.

These predicted grades were established using NAB and prelim results, as well as classroom work.

It’s expected that a similar approach will be taken to the upcoming 2021 grading.