Why is Ofqual considering limiting exams to key subjects in 2021?

2020-11-17

Reducing exams to just core subjects is one option being considered by Ofqual for 2021, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has said.


Centre assessed grades would be used in non-core subjects although Ms Spielman added that “every option creates unfairnesses”.


In her role as chair of Ofqual’s new recovery committee, tasked with managing the fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic, she suggested that a number of options are on the table.


The government has pushed for both GCSEs and A Levels to take place in 2021, with a three week delay meant to make up for some lost learning time.


However, some or all exams in Wales and Scotland next year have been cancelled amid concerns over unfairness.


In an address to the Parliamentary education committee, Ms Spielman said next year’s exams provide “difficult and conflicting issues of fairness” which need to be overcome.


She added that is “very clear that those coming through for exams this year have actually had a tougher time than last year’s Year 11s and 13s”.


Ms Spielman suggested that exams in 2021 provide an issue as pupils have been impacted by lost learning and school closures in different ways across the country.


“I don’t think anybody has a magic wand that can say everybody will catch up entirely inside a year. This is going to be a multi-year project,” she said.


“I think there are some things that you can do through the exam system and some things that need to happen beyond the exam system”.


The Department for Education is looking into what measures are required for exams to go ahead, with plans due for publication in the coming weeks.


A spokesperson for the department added: “Exams are the fairest way of judging a student’s performance, which is why Ofqual and the government all agree they should go ahead next year”.


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