Pupils could be given advance notice of exam topics in 2022 under proposals

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Pupils taking GCSE and A-level exams in England next year could be given advance notice on the focus of exam papers to ensure they are not disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic.

The Department for Education (DfE) and regulator Ofqual have unveiled proposals for the 2022 summer exams – which includes giving schools and colleges some choice over the topics that students are assessed on.

Announcing the consultation, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it is “right that next summer’s arrangements take into account the disruption young people have faced over the past 18 months”.

His comments come after teachers across England have finalised decisions on their pupils’ GCSE and A-level grades after this summer’s exams were cancelled for the second year in a row.

Under the proposals for next year’s GCSE and A-level exams, adaptations would be made to ensure fairness for students and other cohorts following the disruption to education during the pandemic.

A consultation on the proposed measures – which closes on August 1 – sets out plans to provide exam aids, such as a formulae sheet in GCSE maths and an expanded equations sheet in GCSE physics.

Schools and colleges in England could also be given advance information on the focus of exam content to help students focus their revision, and they may be given some choice about the content their students will be assessed on in GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography.

Mr Williamson said: “This year we have rightly asked those who know students best – their teachers – to determine young people’s grades.

“While I know the wait for results can be an anxious one, students and their families can look forward to receiving results next month in the knowledge that they will reflect young people’s hard work and enable them to progress to their next stage.

“Exams will always be the fairest way to assess students, which is why they will take place next year, but it’s right that next summer’s arrangements take into account the disruption young people have faced over the past 18 months.”

Ofqual and the DfE are also running a consultation on arrangements for vocational and technical qualifications – which could allow colleges to streamline assessments and provide revision guidance.

Simon Lebus, Ofqual’s interim chief regulator, said: “With things slowly returning to normal, we are launching a consultation so that the flexibility we are building into qualifications will future-proof them against any public health crisis.

“And we want employers, colleges and universities to have the confidence in those qualifications to allow students to move to the next stage of their lives.

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“We look forward to feedback on our plans from students, parents and teachers to ensure we understand their needs, particularly those whose education has been more harshly affected by the pandemic.

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Plans for the summer 2022 GCSE, AS and A-level exams are expected to be confirmed early in the autumn term.

Ofqual is also considering how best to grade qualifications in 2022 to be as fair as possible to students and it will announce a decision in the autumn.

The DfE will continue to work with Ofqual on contingency plans in the event that it is not possible for exams to go ahead fairly and safely in 2022.

How have your children’s exams been affected by the pandemic? Tell us about it down below!

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