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Commenting on the statement delivered by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson today on changes to the arrangements for exams in 2021, Patrick Roach, General Secretary of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“The announcement of a three week delay to the timetable for most GCSE and A level exams next year will not provide meaningful additional time for students whose preparation for examinations has already been disrupted over a number of months.

“Moving the timetable is unlikely to create much additional teaching time per subject, will place significant pressure on the awarding system and the additional time pressures in turning around exam papers risks a reduction in the number of people willing to work as exam markers.  

“Reducing content in examinations and enabling greater scope for students to answer optional questions must also be strongly considered in order to reduce the pressures on students and teachers.

“It is of equal concern that the Education Secretary has failed today to set out any detail on what contingency arrangements are to be put in place should exams not be able to go ahead in the revised timetable next year or to clarify what measures will be put in place to ensure pupils are not disadvantaged in any way due to the high likelihood of further disruption over this academic year.

“We cannot risk a repeat of the chaos which engulfed this year’s exam results and it is imperative that a range of robust and transparent contingency measures are developed, in consultation with the teaching profession, to address the wide range of possible scenarios schools and pupils may find themselves in over the coming year which could impact on exams and the fair assessment of pupils’ abilities.”

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