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Labour calls Government to push back 2021 exams to help pupils catch up

Kier Starmer

In a statement ahead of schools reopening in England, @Keir_Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

 “For millions of families across England, this week will be a mixture of excitement and anxiety. 

 “Excitement for children who will be back in the classroom for the first time in months. But, anxiety for teachers and parents about a year ahead that is full of uncertainty because of a pandemic that continues to cast its shadow over children’s education. 

 “I want to pay tribute to the extraordinary dedication of our teachers and school staff who have worked tirelessly over the summer to make sure schools can reopen safely.

 “Labour want and expect children to be back at school. Every day that schools were closed was a day of opportunity, learning and support lost. This situation was worsened by the exams fiasco and the Government’s chaotic approach to education.

“We cannot keep repeating those same mistakes. Young people’s futures cannot be held back by the Conservatives’ incompetence. 

“That is why the Education Secretary must come to Parliament to tell us how he will protect our children’s futures. He needs to explain how he will make up for the damage already done, bring pupils up to speed and mitigate against the ongoing risk from the pandemic.”

mary boustedCommenting on the proposals from the Labour Party to delay next years exams, Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“Labour Party proposals to delay GCSE and A level exams usefully starts a debate about how young people sitting these qualifications should be assessed. They are an important part of the solution that needs to be considered alongside others.

‘What is needed, for this year, is a forensic examination of all the possibilities of disruption to next year’s exams – for instance, in the case of a second spike or local lockdowns.  Alternative systems of assessment must be put in place to ensure that there is no repeat of the last minute changes to the awarding process which created such chaos this year.

‘The NEU has written to Gavin Williamson asking him to slim down the syllabus content of GCSE and A levels and put a system of robust teacher moderation in place.  After months of disrupted schooling it is imperative that students are assessed on what they have been taught.”

A DfE spokesperson said:

“Getting all children back into their classrooms full-time in September is a national priority as they are the best place for their education, development and wellbeing.

“We recognise that students due to take exams next summer will have experienced disruption to their education, which is why we prioritised bringing Year 10 and Year 12 pupils back to school last term.

“Exams will go ahead next year, and we have been working closely with the sector, Ofqual and exam boards to consider our approach.

“Ofqual has already consulted on a range of possible adaptations to GCSE, AS and A level exams and assessments next year on a subject-by-subject basis.

“We will continue to discuss these issues with school and college stakeholders, Ofqual and the exam boards, to ensure that exams in 2021 are fair.”

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