Labour is calling for “regional adjustments” to ensure that GCSE and A-level exams can go ahead in 2021 in a way that is fair for pupils in the East of England who have lost out on the face to face teaching due to high levels of disruption from the coronavirus pandemic forcing them to be out of school self-isolating.
This week national data shows there were almost one million children out of school due to coronavirus disruption. From Wednesday, 1,655,500 children attending school in East of England will be under Tier 2 restrictions under government proposals, with disruption to their schooling likely to continue. Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Kate Green, has called on the government to recognise the regional variation in lost learning caused by coronavirus and publish a plan for exams that ensures no pupil is unfairly disadvantaged.
While children have been forced to self-isolate at home, the Government has cut their promised allocation of laptops and equipment to some schools by 80%, leaving disadvantaged pupils without the technology needed to learn remotely.
Labour wrote to Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, earlier this month calling for:
- Greater optionality in questions for A-Level and GCSE exams, to ensure pupils are assessed on what they have been taught;
- Reserve papers to be made available in all subjects, so that self-isolating pupils do not lose out unfairly;
- The government to ensure a level playing field for every region of the country;
- The government to put place a credible Plan B so that pupils can get their grades even if there is a significant disruption that means exams do not go ahead.
Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:
“The Government’s failure to get a grip on this pandemic has meant thousands of pupils off school, missing out on essential learning.
“Instead of bringing forward a clear plan for next summer’s exams the government has dithered and delayed creating huge stress for pupils, teachers and parents.
“To ensure 2021 exams are truly fair to all pupils the government should adopt Labour’s call for regional consideration, greater optionality in questions and reserve papers in all subjects so no child misses out.