Closed petition Cancel GCSE and A-levels in 2021 replace with Course Work and Teacher Assessment

Cancel all standardise testing for year 11 and year 12 students in 2021. By replacing tests with smaller amounts of course work and teacher assessment, students would have a fair chance at achieving their target grades and it would relieve stress for teachers and students.

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As a student I know I don't have a fair opportunity to reach the grades predicted for myself or the grades predicted for my peers. Not all schools are equal, for example lack of funding when comparing private and public schools. This means not all students had equal learning opportunities over lockdown if they didn't have access to a computer or learning materials. Course work and teacher assessment ensures that all students are given an equal chance to get their rightful grades.

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 15 March 2021

Watch the petition 'Cancel GCSE and A-levels in 2021 replace with Course Work and Teacher Assessment' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 26 January 2021

Students will not be asked to sit GCSE, AS and A level exams this summer as planned in light of the ongoing impact of the covid-19 pandemic.

Read the response in full

Instead, it is the Government’s policy (which it is consulting on jointly with Ofqual) that a form of teacher assessment should be used.

The Government has announced that, from 5 January 2021, schools and colleges should move to remote provision, except for vulnerable children and children of critical workers. We recognise that Year 11 and 13 students who were due to take exams in 2021, and their parents, carers and teachers, are concerned about the disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

While the Department continues to believe that exams are the best way of judging students’ performance, we cannot guarantee all students will be in a position to fairly sit their exams this summer. We have therefore confirmed that GCSEs, A and AS level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned, and we are consulting on options to enable candidates to receive a grade.

The Government has confirmed that a form of teacher-assessed grades should be used, with training and support provided to teachers to ensure these are awarded fairly and consistently. Working with Ofqual, we are consulting on how to fairly award all pupils, including students taking vocational qualifications, with a grade that ensures they can progress to the next stage of their lives.

We will build on the joint stakeholder engagement that Ofqual and DfE undertook last year and engage with as many people as possible in an open and transparent way to consider the main options and their implications, including, seeking the views of the students and their parents.

Further details of alternative arrangements to exams will be confirmed following the conclusion of the consultation process , providing clarity to the sector and ensuring that students have the confidence that they will be fairly treated in terms of assessment in 2021.

To help support students and schools during school closures, we have updated the remote education guidance for schools and FE providers to clarify and strengthen expectations while on-site attendance is restricted, drawing on our evolving understanding of best practice in remote education. A comprehensive package of support continues to be available to schools to help them meet these expectations. Schools can find further support via the Get Help with Remote Education page on (

We have invested £400 million to support access to remote education and online social care, with over 800,000 laptops and tablets delivered to schools and local authorities in 2020. We are adding to this support by making further laptops available - bringing the total to over 1.3 million laptops and tablets available to support disadvantaged children.

We have already announced a package worth £1 billion to ensure that schools have the resources they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time. This package includes a universal catch-up premium of £650 million and £350 million for a National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged pupils. We have also announced a 16-19 Tuition Fund, allocating up to £96m as a one-off, one-year, ring-fenced grant to school sixth forms, colleges and all other 16-19 providers. This will provide small group tutoring activity for disadvantaged 16-19 students whose studies have been disrupted as a result of COVID-19.

The government is clear that the school curriculum should remain broad and ambitious, and all students should continue to be taught a wide range of subjects, maintaining their choices for further study and employment.

Department for Education

Ministerial statement on educational settings update

On Wednesday 6 January there was a Ministerial statement on educational settings, by the Secretary of State for Education, where he set out arrangements for teaching during school closures, and announced that GCSE, AS-Levels and A-Levels would not go ahead this summer.

You can watch the statement by Gavin Williamson MP, and his responses to questions on the topic here:

A transcript of the exchange is available here:

What is a Ministerial statement?

Ministerial statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of the House, often at short notice.

Government Ministers may make oral statements to Parliament which usually address major incidents, government policies or actions.

Find out more about Ministerial statements here:

Share your views on how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021

Ofqual and the Department for Education have launched a consultation on how GCSE, AS and A level grades should be awarded in summer 2021. They'd like to hear from students who were due to take their exams, their parents and carers, their teachers, school and college leaders and others who have an interest, including further and higher education providers, and employers.

The consultation outlines proposals for grades based on teacher assessment, and asks for views on these, including how teachers should be supported to make their assessments fairly and consistently.

You can find out more about the consultation and contribute here:

The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 29 January 2021.

Government update on summer 2021 qualifications

On Thursday 25 February, the Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson MP gave a statement to the House of Commons on education recovery and qualifications. In his statement he described how grades for qualifications including GCSEs, A-Levels and BTECs in England will be awarded this summer.

The Government have announced that students, including those taking some vocational qualifications, will receive grades determined by their teachers. Teachers will have the option of using questions provided by exam boards.

Find out more about how this will work:

Read the Government statement here:

Read a blog from the Chief Regulator of the exams watchdog Ofqual, with more detail about the arrangements, here:

What is a Minister? 

Ministers are the MPs and members of the House of Lords who are in the Government. They are appointed by the Prime Minister and each given a specific area of government policy to oversee, for example education, health and social care, or national defence. Some senior Ministers are also referred to as Secretaries of State.
Ministers speak on behalf of the Government during parliamentary debates and must answer questions put to them by other MPs or members of the House of Lords. 

What is a ministerial statement?

Ministerial statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of MPs, often at short notice. You can find out more about them here:

Education Committee to hold session on arrangements for determining student grades

The Education Select Committee has announced that it will be holding a meeting on 9 March to consider the new arrangements for determining student grades. The Committee is a cross-party group of MPs which scrutinises the work of the Department for Education and is independent of the Government.

It will hear from Ofqual and the Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb MP.

You can find out more about that session, and the topics it is likely to cover, here:

Find out more about the Education Committee:

The Education Committee is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:

Petitions Committee schedules debate on the impact of Covid-19 on education

On Monday 15 March, MPs will debate the impact of Covid-19 on education, in response to several petitions including the petition you have signed.

Watch the debate (from 6.15pm, Mon 15 March):
Read the debate transcript (available shortly after the conclusion of the debate):
Follow the Committee on Twitter and join the discussion using #Covid19EducationDebate:

The debate will be led by Petitions Committee member Tom Hunt MP. MPs from all parties can take part, and the Government will send a Minister to respond.

What are petitions debates?

Petitions debates are ‘general’ debates which allow MPs from all parties to discuss the important issues raised by one or more petitions, and put their concerns to Government Ministers.

MPs question the Government on its plans for awarding qualifications in 2021 and 2022

On Thursday 22 July, MPs questioned Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb MP on the Government's plans for awarding qualifications in 2021 and 2022, including GCSEs and A-levels, following a Ministerial Statement.

Watch the statement and MPs' questions:
Read the transcript:

What is a Ministerial Statement?

Ministerial Statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of the House, often at short notice. MPs can question the Minister about the matters raised in the statement.

Find out more about Ministerial Statements: