Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “What is most important is that we don’t see a repeat of this year’s chaos. Poor planning and last minute changes by the government caused misery for many students. It would be indefensible it that happened again.
“NAHT has already called for the government to create and publish plans for the 2021 examination series. We should be at that point by now, frankly, as it is not just a question of next summer, but all the other arrangements for teaching, learning and assessment which will have to begin from this week.
“Labour’s suggestion of a delay to help with ‘catch-up’ is worthy of serious consideration. A delay is not without its problems, a consequential delay to the publication of results will put pressure on higher education providers such as universities and colleges as well as employers. All this will need to be dealt with.
“It is not just about timing. It is obvious that learning could be severely disrupted throughout the year and no one can say with certainty that we will be able to run exams in the normal way in 2021. We should plan to do so but we must also prepare a robust system of awards that will deal with all possible situations.
“This summer, we saw what happened when the government prioritised ‘the system’ over individual students’ needs. The authorities need to stay focussed on what grades mean for young people. Whatever solution we have for 2021, it has to enable young people to move on to the next phase of their lives without looking back over their shoulders at ‘what might have been’.”
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