Support package outlined for students after exam cancellations

A support package for young people has been discussed, after schools closed and exams were cancelled, as England went into its third lockdown.

Gavin Williamson made an address to MPs in the House of Commons on Wednesday (6th) explaining what help will be available.

Due to the latest restrictions, GCSE and A Level exams set for this year have been cancelled.

Mr Williamson announced that teacher assessments will now replace these exams.

In a statement, he said: "This year we're going to put our trust in teachers, rather than algorithms."

Teacher assessments will replace GCSE and A Level exams in England this summer Credit: ITV Meridian

It will now be up to school and college leaders to decide if they want to go ahead with BTEC exams this week.

However, a teenage student from Reading is calling on the government to cancel all BTec exams rather than leaving it up to schools, saying it's discriminatory and unfair. 

Grace Dresser, aged 18, says she feels like she is being treated as "an afterthought".

She is due to sit six exams in biomedical science in the next couple of weeks and faces a 600 mile journey in order to do so, because she attends a specialist school 300 miles away in Newcastle. 

As yet, her school hasn't made its final decision. 

  • Grace Dresser, student:

However, today Mr Williamson told the Commons that this year the government would "put trust in teachers rather than algorithms"

He continued: "While the details will need to be fine-tuned by Ofqual [the exams regulator]...I can confirm that I wish to use teacher-assessed grades that are awarded fairly and consistently."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement on Monday (4th) and said it would not be "possible or fair" for exams to happen this summer.

Under the new rules, all pupils, except vulnerable children and those of key workers, have moved to remote learning.

Special schools and nurseries will stay open.

All pupils, except children of key workers and vulnerable pupils, have moved to remote education. Credit: ITV Meridian

Boris Johnson said "alternative arrangements" would be put in place and that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will work with exams regulator Ofqual.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it recognises this is “an anxious time for students who have been working hard towards their exams” and added it will work to reflect this in its grading.