GCSEs and A-levels likely to be later next summer

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News family and education correspondent

resultsImage source, PA

Next year's A-levels and GCSEs in England could be pushed back later into the summer to allow more teaching time, says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

This would allow schools to catch up some of the time lost since the lockdown.

Mr Williamson told MPs he would be consulting the exam regulator Ofqual about extra time to deliver courses.

It follows a similar proposal announced for exams in Scotland.

England's education secretary, speaking in the House of Commons, said he wanted to find a way to "add more teaching time".

"And that is why we'll be consulting with Ofqual about how we can move those exams back, giving children extra time in order to be able to learn and really flourish," Mr Williamson told MPs.

This year's GCSEs and A-levels were cancelled because of the pandemic - but most of them had been scheduled to run between the week beginning 11 May and the week beginning 15 June.

So this could see next summer's exam season having a later start date and then going into July.

Although some pupils in next year's exam groups have begun to return to school, many weeks will have been lost - and there were concerns about how teachers could catch up and deliver the full exam courses.

In Scotland, Education Secretary John Swinney suggested last week that the exam season could be run later next year, so that courses could be completed.

In the House of Commons, Mr Williamson said that plans would be presented next week for a "full return" to school in the autumn.

Head teachers have warned that the extra space needed for social distancing could make it impossible to bring back all pupils at the same time.

Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said the confusion over pupils going back back to school had been caused by ministers not involving teachers' leaders in decision making.

"All of this uncertainty could have been avoided if the secretary chose to listen to the sector," said Ms Long-Bailey.