Headteachers have urged the Government to trust them with full details of contingency plans for next year’s GCSEs and A-levels, to avoid the stress students faced this year when exams were cancelled at the last minute.
School leaders said they want to know by September what the plans are for the 2022 exams if the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in schools. They also want teachers to be given notice about exam topics sooner.
It comes as a consultation on possible changes to GCSEs and A-levels in 2022 closes today. It proposes that teachers are told in the spring what the exam topics will be. But the NAHT on Monday submitted a request to the Government for schools to be given the plans by the beginning of the next school year.
Giving schools notice of exam topics is designed to focus pupils’ revision and make up for some of the learning they lost during the pandemic. But headteachers said if they are not given the information far enough in advance they will not be able to make the most of the remaining teaching time.
The NAHT said this year contingency information was not shared with schools until March, which left staff with just half a term to act on it. In its response to the consultation, the NAHT said: “The Government must trust the profession with this information early in the academic year to enable them to do the very best for each of their students.”
Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s general secretary, said: “If advance notice is provided only at some point in the spring term 2022, this will be unfair on students who have seen more disruption than others. In order to have the desired impact on teaching and learning and reducing the differential impact of the pandemic on students, schools and colleges must be provided with the information at the beginning of the autumn term 2021.”
The Government is proposing to give students more choice of questions in subjects such as English literature and history, and for advance information about many GCSE, AS and A-level exams to be released in the spring term.
Tom Middlehurst, from the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “This consultation does not include contingency arrangements should exams next summer have to be cancelled and schools, colleges and students will start the autumn unclear about what the Government’s plans are in this scenario. Indecision last year placed considerable stress, anxiety and workload on school and college leaders, teachers, students and parents ... we simply cannot afford a repeat of that in 2022.”