Closed petition Cancel GCSE and A-Level Exams for Summer 2022 due to lack of proper education

Students would like the government and the department for education to cancel all GCSE and A-Level exams for summer 2022 and to have this replaced with the predicted grades, that was successfully operated in the summer of 2021.

More details

Due to the lack of support from online learning during the closure of all schools in the UK, many students don't have the sufficient education to undertake these exams without severe psychological distress. In addition to this, the majority of education establishments in the UK didn't have the capable needs to supply education from a remote learning environment. The overall causality will be a huge amount of failing students whom will not be able to apply to university or find a proper career.

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Government responded

This response was given on 10 January 2022

All other things being equal, exams are the best way of judging what students know and can do. It is the government’s firm intention that exams should go ahead in 2022.

Read the response in full

We know that, all other things being equal, exams are the best and fairest way of judging what students know and can do. We are monitoring the path of the pandemic and its impact on education closely, but it remains the government’s firm intention that exams and assessments will go ahead in 2022.

We do recognise, however, that students taking exams in 2022 have experienced disruption to their education due to the ongoing pandemic. In recognition of this, the department and Ofqual held a widescale programme of sector engagement, including through a public consultation, (available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposed-changes-to-the-assessment-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2022) to consider proposed changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels. Our proposals received a high degree of support in the consultation, and the department and Ofqual have now confirmed a package of measures to help reduce pressures on students and teachers in the coming year and ensure exams can go ahead fairly (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/adaptations-in-2022-summer-examsto-ensure-fairness-for-students).

As part of these measures, we have confirmed that advance information about the focus of the content of the majority of GCSE, AS and A level exams will be deployed by 7 February to support revision, although we retain the flexibility to deploy this earlier if there is significant further disruption to education. The advance information will be carefully considered to give students support with focusing their studying and revision but not so detailed that exact answers could be developed in advance. This is in line with our principles of fairness, flexibility and certainty with maintaining the standard and rigour of qualifications. This process will be managed by Ofqual working with the exam boards. Advance information will also be available for students sitting the November 2022 GCSE English language and mathematics re-sit exams. There will be advance information deployed for both subjects in July, and a formulae sheet will be available for mathematics. In addition, we are investing almost £5bn to help children and young people to catch up on missed learning. This includes high quality tutoring, additional funding for schools and additional hours in 16-19 provision. For Year 13 students, providers offered them the opportunity to repeat their final year in 2021-2022 if they had been particularly severely impacted by the pandemic. We prioritised keeping schools open for the most vulnerable children and we supported all students by ensuring schools were the last to close and the first to open. We have also invested £520 million in remote education, with 1.65million laptops and tablets delivered.

There will also be optional topics and content in GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography exams. Ofqual will require exam boards to change how they assess these subjects to reflect the expected changes to the way the subject content is assessed, as proposed in the consultation.

Ofqual has also confirmed changes to the assessment requirements for practical assessments in some subjects to take account of any public health measures that may be in place and relieve pressure on teaching time, and confirmed that students will be allowed to have access to support materials in the exam room in GCSE mathematics, combined science, and physics.  

In the interests of fairness to students, and maintaining public confidence in grading, Ofqual has also confirmed that 2022 will be a transition year for grading and has set out its plans for a mid-point between 2021 and pre-pandemic grades (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/ofquals-approach-to-grading-exams-and-assessments-in-summer-2022-and-autumn-2021). This reflects that we are in a pandemic recovery period and students taking exams in 2022 have experienced disruption to their education.

We believe that, taken together, these measures provide the best opportunity to support young people to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding and move on to their next stage of education, training or employment. 

Although we are committed to exams going ahead this year, supported by the above adaptations, we understand that contingency arrangements are also needed to deal with the unlikely event that exams cannot go ahead fairly or safely.

Following a joint consultation with Ofqual, we have confirmed that should GCSE, AS and A level exams not be able to go ahead, students will receive Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) instead. We have confirmed some changes to the 2021 TAGs process, which take account of lessons learned from 2021 and minimise burdens on both teachers and students. As was the case in 2021, the contingency arrangements would not allow for grades awarded to be based on predicted grades: they would be based on a range of evidence, and Ofqual has published guidance on the collection of this evidence across the academic year in case it is necessary to implement the contingency arrangements (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-contingency-arrangements-for-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-summer-2022/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-other-exam-centres-on-contingency-arrangements-for-students-entering-gcses-as-and-a-levels-the-advanced-extension#guidance-on-collecting-evidence-to-be-used-to-determine-tags-if-they-are-needed-in-summer-2022).

Our position remains that exams will go ahead in 2022 with advance information being deployed by 7 February.

Department for Education

Other parliamentary business

Share your views on 2022 GCSE and A-level exam arrangements with the Government

On 30 September the Government launched a consultation on contingency arrangements for GCSE, AS, A level, Project and AEA qualifications in 2022.

Specifically, the Government is seeking views on contingency arrangements for awarding Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs), in the event that exams are not able to go ahead as planned.

Read the Government's plans and share your views (by 11.45pm on 13 October 2021): https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/contingency-arrangements-gcse-as-a-level-project-and-aea.