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Gavin Williamson promises ‘granular detail’ of exam substitute plans

Gavin Williamson promises pupils will get ‘granular detail’ of exam substitute plans as he prepares to unveil new system tomorrow

  • Gavin Williamson is set to unveil the GSCE and A-Level arrangements tomorrow 
  • Was announced last month that normal exams will not take place this summer
  • Teacher assessments are set to decide the grades students receive instead

Gavin Williamson has promised pupils will finally get ‘granular detail’ about exam substitute plan as he prepares to unveil the new system tomorrow.  

The Education Secretary said he will reveal how ‘teacher judgement’ will be used to replace cancelled GCSE, A-level and AS exams. 

It was confirmed last month that the usual arrangements are being abandoned, but students have been left in limbo with little clue as to what will be happening instead. 

Internal tests are expected to be used as a resource ‘to support assessment of students’, but teachers are set to have the final say after anger at a ‘standardising’ algorithm that was tried out and then dropped last year.

Mr Williamson told BBC Breakfast that he will outline the ‘more granular detail’ of how students will be assessed this year in the absence of exams. 

‘As we’ve said many times before we’re not going to be running exams this year, it’s going to be based on teacher judgment.’

The Times Educational Supplement reported that one aspect of the plan, which was to issue grades significantly earlier than normal – in early or mid-July – is now in doubt. 

Exams regulator Ofqual will also need to clarify the role of ‘mini-exams’.  

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he will reveal how ‘teacher judgement’ will be used to replace cancelled GCSE, A-level and AS exams

It was confirmed last month that the usual exams arrangements are being abandoned, but students have been left in limbo with little clue as to what will be happening instead

It was confirmed last month that the usual exams arrangements are being abandoned, but students have been left in limbo with little clue as to what will be happening instead

Mr Williamson today hinted that the school day will be extended alongside summer catch-up classes as part of a £700million catch-up package after the pandemic.

The Education Secretary confirmed the government is looking at a ‘broad range of options’ when asked if school hours could be increased to make up for lost time during lockdowns.

Under plans announced today, secondaries will offer face-to-face teaching over the holidays, with ministers keen to see summer classes for incoming Year 7 pupils.

The summer schools will be funded with £200million from the package, while a £302million Recovery Premium will also see every primary school handed £6,000 and secondaries £22,000 each to fund further support for pupils most in need.

The Department for Education said this will come on top of another £200million in funding for the National Tutoring Programme and other tuition schemes and could be spent on extra clubs, activities or teaching for those who have fallen behind.  

However, other radical measures like permanently trimming the summer holidays or lengthening the school day do not figure in the plans yet.

Experts warned that the package is only a ‘start’ and it could take a decade to heal the ‘educational scarring’ suffered by children during the crisis. 

Social mobility professor Lee Elliott Major told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think we need a hugely ambitious drive over the next decade to equalise, level the playing field in education. Our research shows a whole generation could be educationally scarred by this pandemic. 

Boris Johnson takes part in an online lesson during a visit to Sedgehill School in Lewisham, south east London, yesterday

Boris Johnson takes part in an online lesson during a visit to Sedgehill School in Lewisham, south east London, yesterday

‘There was already huge inequality before the pandemic hit. This really is a fight for our future.’ 

Pressed on whether lengthening the school day was on the table, Mr Williamson told Sky News: ‘We’ll be looking at how we can boost and support children in a whole range of different manners.

‘But it’s not just about time in school, it’s about supporting teachers in terms of the quality of teaching and how we can help them.’ 

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