Reacting to today’s Education Select Committee session with the Secretary of State for Education, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“School leaders watching the Secretary of State’s session with the Education Select Committee will have been looking for signs that the government has a clear sight of the issues that led to this year’s results fiasco and have learned the lessons in order to plan effectively and prevent similar problems in 2021. The Secretary of States’ responses will have given the profession little confidence this is the case.
“The government maintains its insistence that all exams and assessments will take place this academic year come what may. But many of the factors that led to the cancelling exams in 2020 – including the potential for lockdowns and other disruption to students’ education – still persist.
“We had a clear answer from the Secretary of State that there would be no further adaptations to the content of specifications. But decisions are still to be made about a delay to the start of exams, the provision of an additional session of exams using reserve papers, and back-up plans for the situation where normal exams might not be able to take place because, for example, of a local lockdown.
“But schools and colleges need certainty now. They are operating in the dark and we are already three weeks into the new term. Just because exams aren’t in the calendar until next summer, it would be a terrible mistake to think that we have until then to prepare. It is essential that we have clear and credible plans for the awarding of all qualifications next summer, which cover the range of circumstances which could arise. We need that plan to be publicised immediately to reassure students, teachers and leaders and to rebuild confidence in the system.”
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