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Looking Ahead to GCSEs and A Levels in 2021


This is a time of great uncertainty for pupils of all ages, but especially for those who should have been sitting public exams this year or will be sitting them in 2021. Students who missed out on taking their exams face uncertainty about the grades they will be awarded; those starting Year 11 or Year 13 are anxious about the work they have missed, even if their school’s online learning provision has been very good, and what their exams will look like next year.

There has been a lot of discussion and speculation about these matters in the media over the last few weeks. Options being discussed include starting the 2021 exams a month later, open book exams, a reduced curriculum or more choice of questions and possibly taking more account of school assessments.

The implications of any of these options are enormous for children, teachers and schools, especially in the midst of planning a full return to school in the autumn with social distancing measures in place.

It has been announced that Ofqual is consulting on pushing back the start date for GCSE and A level exams next year to account for students’ lost teaching time during the coronavirus pandemic. Implications obviously include exam boards being able to process the marking and issue results in good time, and the knock-on effect on university offers.

An article in Tes has described other possible major changes to how GCSEs are run in 2021. The proposals from Ofqual include removing the need for geography field trips and practicals in science GCSEs, and greater choice in history GCSE questions. These changes are intended to mitigate the effects of lost learning during lockdown, although The National Education Union has reportedly said it was “unrealistic” to think that these measures could make up for months out of school. Read more here.

The Department of Education has confirmed that pupils will continue GCSE and A Level studies in all subjects this autumn. It’s also been announced that there will be the option to sit any GCSE or A level exam in the autumn, if students and parents are unhappy with the centre-assessed grades they receive in August. Read more. If you think this might be the case for your child, then it makes sense for them to maintain learning momentum over the summer. Do remember that we have tutors available in all subjects to provide flexible and targeted online tutoring during the summer months and into September.

We can also provide support for students entering their GCSE or A Level year, to ensure they are up to speed with the curriculum, ready for the final year of study before these important exams. And we are always here to give you free expert advice and support, whatever your situation and concerns. Call us any time on 020 3488 0754.

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