For the second year running, A-Level and GCSE exams, due to be held in the summer, have been cancelled as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The announcement was made by the Prime Minister on 4th January, the same day he brought in the third national lockdown. Some students welcomed the news, as they no longer have to sit their exams and it alleviates pressure caused by exam nerves. However, many students are left angered as they believe the news should have come sooner and they won’t have the chance to demonstrate their skills in exam conditions as opposed to classwork.
It’s stressful enough being a student studying for GCSEs in year eleven or completing A-Levels at college. Since the cancellation of the 2020 exams, the pandemic hasn’t shown any signs of easing. Future examinations, including the 2021 series, should have been postponed until the virus was under control, with an announcement being made at the start of the 2020/21 academic year.
Unlike A-Levels and GCSEs, vocational exams were to continue as normal in January. This doesn’t make any sense, given that England is now in lockdown. The government later changed their minds and said the decision was “in the hands of the individual schools and colleges”. Of course, educational establishments would want what’s best for their students and would probably decide to cancel the exams anyway.
Such change at short notice adds more unnecessary stress to students, as well as staff. The government should not have prioritised A-Levels and GCSEs, thinking more students sit those in comparison to other vocational exams. There isn’t any difference between A-Levels, BTECs, and GCSEs when it comes to students taking the exam. Yes, there will be more students attending some exams in comparison to others, but the concept remains the same: the exams will still be sat with many students from different households in the same room.
As there is now a new variant of Covid-19 which is spreading faster than the original virus, the government should have considered different factors and thought ahead, rather than crossing bridges when they got to them. They have left it too late to make the announcement, showing they don’t appear to be interested in students’ mental health, while risking their physical health by reinstating the exams after the cancellation last year. Exams should have been fully cancelled, rather than prioritised, or moved online.