14 October 2020, The Tablet

Another chance missed for exam rethink

Schools and Covid-19


The government is in trouble over its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the country is in trouble too, partly as a result. Nothing illustrates this better than the announcement that next year’s A-level and GCSE examinations in England are to be postponed by three weeks, so that pupils can catch up on time lost due to the closure of schools as a precaution against coronavirus.

But they were not closed for three weeks; it was more like six months. This situation has all the makings of another government fiasco leading to another U-turn. The announcement ignored advice from head teachers and other experts. Once again the educational establishment is treated not as people who know what they are talking about but as a special interest with hidden motives. 

The announcement presupposes that the disruptive effects of the disease will be more or less over by next summer, which is wishful thinking. This autumn’s “second wave” has already arrived quicker than expected: Covid-19 is not a predictable enemy. This uncertainty refers not only to the new examination timetables but to the many months leading up to them, when schools may well face increasingly severe interruptions.

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