A-Level exams will likely be delayed in 2021 - here’s the proposed timeline

By Ethan Shone
Friday, 2nd October 2020, 4:05 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd October 2020, 5:05 pm
A-Level exams will likely be delayed in 2021 - here’s the proposed timeline (photo: Shutterstock)
A-Level exams will likely be delayed in 2021 - here’s the proposed timeline (photo: Shutterstock)

Next year’s A-Level exams will be delayed by three weeks to allow pupils to make up for lost time during the pandemic, The Telegraph has reported.

Ministers are finalising plans which will be announced next week by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, after Downing Street reportedly knocked back suggestions that the exams should be pushed back by a year.

What would that mean for A-Level students?

Reports would suggest that A-Levels will be pushed back by three months in 2021, to allow some time for students to catch up.

Some students will have already lost as much as four months education time due to the pandemic, and with coronavirus outbreaks being confirmed in a growing number of schools, there are concerns they could lose out on more learning before their exams next year.

While the changes have not been confirmed as yet, they are thought to also include a plan to narrow the scope of some exams, meaning students' knowledge would be tested to the same level but on a narrower range of topics.

They would also give teachers the opportunity to focus on the parts of the syllabus which are thought to be more important, rather than trying to fit in all aspects of it in a reduced timeframe.

Why are exams being pushed back?

The plans are thought to have come about due to the government’s fears of a repeat of the kind of issues which affected the A-Level process this year, which saw an alternative form of assessment come in to replace exams, as students could not sit them due to the pandemic.

This year, many A-Level students suffered major issues as the initial workaround proposed by the government (that grades would be determined by an algorithm) resulted in many students being downgraded, which would have caused many to lose out on university offers.

The algorithm was eventually scrapped, meaning students were able to use their teacher-assessed grades rather than those predicted by the algorithm, which in many cases meant students were able to meet the requirements of their offers.

Speaking to The Telegraph, a DfE spokesman said, “There are a range of measures proposed by Ofqual following a public consultation, including a possible short delay to the exam timetable subject-specific changes to reduce pressure on teaching time.

“We will continue to work with school and college stakeholders, Ofqual and the exam boards, to ensure that exams in 2021 are fair.”