GCSE A-level
Why will 2021 exams be postponed next summer? It's a long-term result of pandemic school closures. Source: Karoly Arvai/AFP

GCSE and A-level exams in 2021 could be held later next summer to allow more teaching time, according to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

According to The Guardian and BBC, the UK government is set to consult with exam regulator Ofqual about the matter. During a June 22 House of Commons sitting, Williamson told MPs that pupils need extra time “in order to be able to learn and really flourish”.

This overrides his previous statement that the pre-university exams would go ahead as scheduled next year.

GCSE, A-level exams to return in 2021

GCSE A-level

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson wants to give teachers and students more time to prepare for GCSE and A-level exams next year. Source: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/AFP Photo

Ofqual later responded to Williamson’s suggestion. It recognised widespread concerns over the disruption to learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement read, “We are working closely with the Department for Education, exam boards and groups representing teachers, schools, colleges and students, to carefully consider a range of possible measures. We are planning to publish for consultation our proposals for 2021 before the end of the term.”

The GCSEs and A-levels were scheduled to run between May 11 to June 15 this year, before being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The weeks lost to school closures has set next year’s exam groups back in their school year. Teachers would have extra time to catch up on delivering full exam courses if exams are held later in summer 2021.

This year’s GCSE and A-level exam results will be released in August 2020. Students will be graded based on a combination of teacher assessment, class ranking and the past performance of their schools.

How will this affect the school year schedule?

GCSE A-level

School students in the UK did not sit for the GCSE or A-level exams this year, but they will in 2021. Source: Adrian Dennis/AFP

As a student, you may be wondering how this will change your exam year. There are several considerations to bear in mind.

The postponement would undoubtedly allow students more time to prepare for exams in 2021. It could, however, also create scheduling complications over the long-term.

According to Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, it would leave exam boards with less time to mark millions of scripts. This could lead to results being published later, even potentially running into the autumn term.

“This would affect progression to further and higher education,” Barton said.

He advised, “It’s important that the approach to next year’s exams supports pupils without creating more problems than it solves, and that it is agreed as soon as possible so that schools and colleges are able to prepare accordingly.”

Liked this? Then you’ll love…

A-level and GCSE results to be released in August 2020 as planned

Planning to study in the UK? Here’s a checklist of what you should know