Concerns About GCSE Students During COVID-19


Following my own concerns and that of constituents who have contacted me regarding Year 11 students and their GCSEs, I have raised a number of questions with the government. I will keep on raising these issues, the education of our young people is a top priority along with health and jobs during this crisis. You can find some of the issues I have raised below, along with the Minister responses I have received so far. I welcome parents, students and teachers views on GCSEs and A Levels next year, so that I can continue to press the government on it based on my constituents’ experience and views.

The Department for Education has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (109174)

Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he made of the preparedness of pupils to sit their GCSE examinations in 2021 due to the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on educational settings.

(109174) Tabled on: 30 October 2020

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:1. To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with headteachers on (a) the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on (i) pupil attendance and (ii) teaching time and (b) whether year 11 pupils will be ready to sit their GCSE examinations in 2021; and if he will publish the outcome of those discussions.

(109175) Tabled on: 30 October 2020

Answer: Nick Gibb: The Government has been clear that it is a top priority to keep schools open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure all pupils benefit from a high quality education. On 12 October, the Department announced that assessment by examination will be part of a normalised year for Year 11 pupils because examinations are the fairest form of assessment. The Department also announced that the examinations will start on 7 June and end on 2 July for almost all GCSEs. This is three weeks later than the usual start dates from previous years to help teachers and pupils prepare for examinations. The delay and the changes already agreed to what will be assessed in some GCSE subjects, as well as changes that ease the burden of assessment in some subjects at GCSE, will give pupils extra time to study, without causing unnecessary disruption to the usual timetable of the academic year. These changes to the assessment of GCSEs were announced in August, following a public consultation. The outcome of Ofqual’s consultation on summer 2021 exams is available at:…/proposed-changes-to-the-assessment….

The Department, along with Ofqual and exam boards, is engaging extensively with the sector on plans for exams in summer 2021, including with head teachers, principals of further education colleges, trade unions and sector representative bodies. Engagement with head teachers and their representatives are through a number of different forums and cover a range of issues, including the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on pupils’ attendance, teaching time and GCSE examinations in 2021. These engagements will inform our planning for all foreseeable scenarios to safeguard pupils’ ability to sit exams and achieve qualifications which allow them to progress to the next stage of their education or employment. We expect to share details of these contingency plans later in the autumn.

The answer was submitted on 04 Nov 2020 at 16:11.