UK Covid live: Gavin Williamson says GCSE and A-level exams to be replaced by teacher assessment

Latest updates: Education secretary confirms England exams cancelled; PM says people should be ‘extremely cautious’ on timing for school return

2.15pm GMT

The National Education Union has criticised Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, for not announcing a move to teacher-assessed grades, as a replacement for exams, earlier. In a response to Williamson’s Commons statement (see 1.33pm), the NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted said:

Gavin Williamson said in parliament today that he and Ofqual had prepared a contingency for teacher-assessed grades to award qualifications in summer 2021 but, if this is the case, why did he keep it from the sector? The NEU alongside other unions had called for structures to enable such a back-up option to exams in October. Had these structures been put in place then we would be in a much better position now to make it happen.

Instead, there is a danger that implementing such a process fairly and consistently nationally at this late stage will lead to further extreme stress and workload for education staff, students and parents. This stress could have been avoided had government not been so obsessed and blinkered by their pursuit of exams in the face of the obvious prospect that they may not be fair or possible.

2.04pm GMT

At Stormont Northern Ireland’s education minister, Peter Weir, is announcing that GCSE, AS and A level exams are being cancelled this summer for Northern Ireland pupils. These are from the BBC’s Jayne McCormack.

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Education Minister Peter Weir on his feet now to confirm cancellation of GCSE, AS and A-level exams for NI students – likely issue of transfer test will also dominate the debate

.@peterweirmla on cancelling exams: “I now feel we have reached a point where, while I still believe exams are the most appropriate and fairest awarding methodology, with a further 6 weeks of remote learning having to be imposed, we can’t continue with exams in the way planned.”

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