England's pupils face changes to A-level and GCSE exams in 2022 to account for Covid disruption

Education chief Gavin Williamson seeks to ditch teacher assessments

STALYBRIDGE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Katie Hilton and Isobel Moores open their results as pupils receive their GCSE results at Copley Academy on August 20, 2020 in Stalybridge, England. Due to new restrictions recently introduced in Tameside and Oldham, pupils are collecting results on an one-to-one appointment only basis. GCSE students were unable to sit their exams this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. A government-backed algorithm used to award grades has been withdrawn after thousands of A'level students were downgraded to the predicted grades given by teachers. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Pupils sitting A-levels and GCSEs in England next year could see their grades adjusted to account for the disruption caused by the pandemic.

UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he wanted exams to go ahead in 2022 but acknowledged that “adjustments and mitigations” were needed so pupils would not be at a disadvantage.

In summer 2021 exams were cancelled for the second year in a row, with grades instead assessed by teachers based on factors such as mock exams or class work.

After the UK announcement for 2021, teacher-assessed grades will be used to evaluate pupils at British schools in the UAE this year.

Oxford AQA and Cambridge International confirmed their IGCSE and A-level exams did not go ahead in the UAE this month.

For pupils in England, Mr Williamson said he would “far prefer to see children sitting exams” in 2022 but that changes were needed for that to happen.

"We very much hope and intend exams will go ahead in 2022," he told the House of Commons education select committee.

“I very much expect there to be adjustments and mitigations put in place because I think that those youngsters who currently are in Year 10 and Year 12 will have obviously suffered disruption as a result of the pandemic.”

He said it was not possible to "immediately switch back to the situation as it was back in 2019" and new ideas were needed to assess pupil performance.

Those included slimming down some of the subject areas to be tested and pushing back the dates of exams to increase lesson time.

Asked about the length of school days, Mr Williamson said he was “very concerned” that some secondary schools closed too early.

“On average, secondary schools are open for as long on average as primary schools,” he said. Beyond the age of 16, he said "the average amount of time spent" in school decreases.

“We’re the only country in Europe where you see that difference and I think that actually sort of presents some concerns and some worries.”

Changes to 2022 GCSE and A-level exams in England

Geography field trips for A-level and GCSE will be dropped from course requirements and related questions removed from exams as part of the regulator’s plans for 2022.

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation said students learning Spanish, French and German could be required to learn less vocabulary.

Design and technology pupils may only have to watch their teachers use machinery and tools instead of having to learn how they work themselves.

Meanwhile, dance performances will be shorter and there is no requirement that students perform as part of a group.

Drama students may only have to watch a streamed live performance rather than attend the theatre themselves.