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Labour condemns Conservative inaction on exams as the Party sets out plans to deliver fair grades next summer

@UKLabour has today (Wednesday) condemned the @Conservatives’ inaction which sees pupils and teachers returning to their classrooms without knowing how they’ll be examined this year, as the Party sets out its own plan for ensuring students get fair grades next summer.

In July, Labour set 1 September as a deadline for the government to give schools and pupils certainty over how they will be assessed this school year. However, with the Conservatives once again failing to fully provide the clarity that young people need, Labour has set out its own plan for ensuring A-level, BTEC and GCSE exams could go ahead fairly, and a plan B should exams be disrupted for a third year.

This call comes as new analysis shows that students entering their final GCSE year next week have been out of school for a quarter of Year 10, having missed 47 days each on average.

Labour is calling for:

  • Adaptations to exams – notice of exam topics to be given to pupils by 1st January, greater question choice and back-up papers for the November and January exam series for pupils who are unwell or isolating;
  • A clear Plan B should pupils face further disruption– two standardised assessment points with consistent materials which could be used to award grades if severe further disruption means exams cannot go ahead;
  • Small group tutoring and an education recovery premium– implementation of Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan which would expand small group tutoring to all who need it, introduce free breakfast clubs and extracurricular activities and put qualified mental health support in every school;
  • A fair grading system – pegging the 2022 grade distribution, which helps determine the numbers of pupils achieving which grades, to 2020 in recognition that this year’s students will likely be competing with the 2020/21 cohorts for education, employment or training opportunities.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, commenting said:

“Pupils, parents and schools need certainty, but the Conservatives still have not got a plan in place despite having more than a year to prepare.

“Young people are returning to classrooms this week with no idea how they will be assessed. They are being let down again by a Conservative Government which has shown no care for their futures, providing only a vague consultation for this year’s exams series. 

“Labour has today set out a clear plan for exams, just as we have set out a recovery plan which would enable every child to bounce back from the pandemic and reach their potential. The Conservatives must start matching this ambition for children’s learning and their futures.”


Total days for secondary students

Per Y10 pupil

Winter 2020



Spring 2021



Summer 2021






Proportion of school year out of school




Sector Response

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“We have pressed for months for the government to provide information by the start of the autumn term, not only on adaptations to examinations for 2022, but also on its contingency plans. Students deserve clarity and staff need this information so they can take it into account when planning for the new academic year.

“There are no guarantees that the government will meet this timescale, which will be problematic for next year’s exam cohorts.

“School and college leaders are already thinking further ahead than this in relation to the students who will start their A-level and GCSE courses this September, taking exams in 2023. They have had to endure a great deal of disruption to their education already, although we don’t know what the new academic year will bring.

“Even though 2023 might seem a long way off for ministers, schools, colleges and their students cannot afford for time to be wasted in the new academic year. It is not unreasonable to expect the government to be looking forward to 2023’s exam series to avoid the late decisions which have caused so many issues over the past two years.”

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