Commenting on the Department for Education’s announcement on GCSE, AS and A level exams in 2021, Deborah Lawson, Assistant General Secretary with Voice – the education section of Community Union – said:
“We welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement that the Government and Ofqual will ‘engage’ with unions and other stakeholders.
“However, there are multiple missed opportunities here.
“There is a missed opportunity to reassure teachers about what they are teaching.
“There is a missed opportunity to encourage students that they will be fairly assessed and that their grades will have meaning.
“There is a missed opportunity to underline the value and reliability of teacher assessment.
“We are deeply concerned that the Government’s plans seem to be ‘carry on regardless’, with no Plan B or C.
“The Government seems to be relying on a three-week delay to the exam season to make up for months of disruption and lost learning.
“Voice has always agreed that the exams should take place, if they can do so safely and without detriment to the students. However, we must consider the likelihood that there also need to be fully considered alternatives especially in the light of the medical advice issued this morning.
“The ‘risks’ the Government refers to are centred around the ‘examination season’, but we are concerned that there will not be a level playing field from now until then because of COVID-related disruption to teaching.
“We do not want to see a repeat of the chaos surrounding this year’s results, with the Government forced by circumstances to change the system in crisis mode at the eleventh hour.
“We will work with Ofqual and the Government to make this work in the best interests of pupils, but we will also seek assurances that there will not be a further burden on school staff of increased workload, especially at the last minute in response to an increase in infections.”