Exams 2021 and Covid Impact

In recognition of the challenges faced by students this year, grades will be more generous, students will be given advance notice of some topic areas, and steps will be taken to ensure every student receives a grade, even if they miss a paper due to self-isolation or illness.

The government has been clear that exams are the fairest way to judge a student’s performance and has made keeping schools and colleges open a national priority throughout the pandemic in order to minimise disruption to education.

Read more about this announcement on GOV.UK.


What will be different this year?

Building on the three week delay to exams to free up extra teaching time announced in October, the new measures include:

  • more generous grading than usual, in line with national outcomes from 2020, so students this year are not disadvantaged
  • students receiving advance notice of some topic areas covered in GCSE, AS and A levels to focus revision
  • exam aids —like formula sheets—provided in some exams, giving students more confidence and reducing the amount of information they need to memorise
  • additional exams to give students a second chance to sit a paper if the main exams or assessments are missed due to illness or self-isolation
  • a new expert group to look at differential learning and monitor the variation in the impact of the pandemic on students across the country

Today’s steps follow extensive engagement with Ofqual, exam boards and senior leaders across the education sector.

The measures recognise that, while teachers have gone above and beyond to support their pupils during a difficult period, some young people have had their teaching disrupted more than others and will need extra support to catch up on the curriculum and achieve their potential in exams.

Read the exams guidance on GOV.UK.


What do these new measures mean for students, teachers and parents?

We have developed a parent Q&A document that goes into the detail of this announcement and aims to address any queries they may have.

The Secretary of State has also written a letter to all students taking exams this year to explain these changes, show why they are necessary and help them understand how they will be impacted. We would be grateful if you would distribute this amongst your students.

Download the letter.

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