Everything you need to know about the cancellation of school exams in England

Schools in England have been closed until mid-February as part of a national lockdown aimed at curbing the rapid spread of the new variant of Covid-19.

Schools across England were initially closed in March 2020 during the first national lockdown, and reopened in September.

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But due to the new national lockdown schools will be closed again, further disrupting education across the country.

So what does this mean for exams, assessments and grading? This is what we know.

Are exams cancelled in England?

As Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown on 4 January, he confirmed that the summer exam diet school pupils had been preparing for would be cancelled.

BTec and vocational exams are expected to go ahead in January, however he has also stressed colleges should feel no pressure to continue with these either.

Year 6 Sats tests will also be cancelled this year.

How will grades be calculated?

On 6 January Education Minister Gavin Williamson confirmed that teachers’ estimated grades would replace GCSEs and A Levels this summer.

He said: "While the details will need to be fine-tuned in consultation with (the regulator) Ofqual, the exam boards and teaching representative organisations I can confirm now that I wish to use a form of teacher-assessed grades, with training and support provided, to ensure these are awarded fairly and consistently across the country.”

In his statement, Williamson referenced the controversial algorithmic grading which took place in the summer of 2020 and resulted in thousands of underprivileged children being downgraded.

He said this year he would "trust in teachers rather than algorithms".

In addition, he said that schools will be asked to provide three to five hours per day of “high-quality remote education” and that this would be “mandatory” and monitored by Ofsted inspectors.

Proposals are being drawn up by Ofqual for an alternative way of deciding results for any qualifications that could be used for getting into university, staying on at school or getting into jobs.

What disruptions have students experienced?

Schools were closed throughout the first half of the 2020 school year due to rising coronavirus cases.

Once schools reopened in September, pupils were forced to self-isolate at home if they or one of their classmates tested positive for Covid.

Following the announcement of the national lockdown on 4 January, the vast majority of schoolchildren and college students are now expected to learn from home, with only vulnerable kids and those of key workers being supported on campus.

This has caused concerns about a potential widening in the attainment gap between the most underprivileged students and their more affluent counterparts.