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Exams to be Altered Following Recent Disruption to Teaching

The Minister for Education, Gavin Williamson, has told the Education Select Committee that those sitting exams in the upcoming academic year will have exams adjusted, saying it would not be viable to “immediately switch back to the situation as it was back in 2019.”

In a press release from the Department for Education, Mr Williamson said: “Exams will always be the fairest way to assess students, which is why they will take place next year, but it’s right that next summer’s arrangements take into account the disruption young people have faced over the past 18 months.”

Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation, have confirmed the changes they will require exam boards to make to exams next year, they include: 

  • Changes in GCSE Geography, History and Ancient History to cover content in appropriate depth.
  • Multiple topics on which students are required to answer in GCSE English Literature.
  • Fieldwork in multiple subjects will see changes to the requirement for the number of days at both GCSE and A-Level. 
  • Spoken Language exams in modern foreign languages will see a new “common assessment criteria” produced for teachers.
  • Modifications to non-exam assessments in subjects including music and physical education at both GCSE and A-Level.
  • Exam board will not, in general, change the length or format of their exam papers, except to accommodate changes made by Ofqual.
  • Considerations are also being made in regard to “grade protection” as has happened in previous years although no decision has been made yet. 
  • Because of the breadth of general exams that are not GCSE or A-Levels and are vocational, Ofqual has said a single approach would not be feasible and Ofqual will support different organisations to facilitate these exams. 

A decision has still not been made in regards to whether the summer 2021 exam timetable will be delayed due to feared consequences of later results.


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Freyja Elwood

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May 2022
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