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Are GCSE and A-level exams cancelled in 2021?

PRESSURE has grown on the government to cancel exams for students this year amid threats of further school closures.

With Boris Johnson poised to announce a third national lockdown, we look at the implications for A-Levels and GCSEs.

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Are GCSE and A-level exams cancelled in 2021? 

The government has not announced whether A-Levels or GCSEs will be cancelled in 2021.

So far, the exams are set to go ahead, with pupils in exam years set to return to school on January 11. 

However, this could all change when Boris Johnson makes his address to the nation at 8pm on January 4. 

The PM has refused to rule out scrapping GCSE and A-Level exams this year following demands to axe them because of Covid disruption.

Headteachers have warned that there is now huge educational inequality caused by the pandemic – making some pupils more prepared for exams than others.

When asked on The Andrew Marr Show on January 3 whether exams should be cancelled, the Prime Minister declined to rule the idea out.

He said: "We’ve got to be realistic about the pace at which this new variant has spread, we’ve got to be realistic about the impact it’s having on our NHS, and we’ve got to be humble in the face of this virus."

What will happen to students' grades if exams are cancelled? 

The government is yet to lay out a definitive plan for how students would be graded, but will no doubt be aiming to avoid a repeat of last summer’s algorithm fiasco. 

Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, faced calls to resign after a controversial algorithm saw thousands of A-Level miss out on university places – prompting a sharp U-Turn. 

Students were instead given their predicted grades, a system which ministers could choose to repeat in 2021.  

Former education secretary Lord Baker has also joined in the debate – telling The Sunday Times that teachers should be allowed to grade their students instead.

He said: "They are better than algorithms and they are the only people who can possibly assess the achievement of their students in this extraordinary time."

Why have some schools not reopened in January?

The government announced on December 30 that primary schools in Tier 4 areas would stay shut, while other years would see a staggered return.

Pupils in exam years will return on January 11, with all secondary students in non-Tier 4 areas to follow on January 18.

However, this is likely to change with the PM poised to announce a third national lockdown on January 4 – with all schools across the UK set to shut.

Millions of parents face chaos and confusion as primary schools across the country stayed shut in defiance of Government orders.

Mr Johnson has urged parents to send kids back to school as he has “no doubt” they are safe.

But in a screeching U-turn, teaching unions have advised schools to stay shut, with parents now being told to keep kids at home.

Council leaders in Wolverhampton, Norfolk, Slough, Manchester, County Durham, Lancashire, Birmingham and Gateshead said they would support the decision of head teachers who do not think it is safe for the school to open.

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