Coronavirus: GCSE and A-level pupils can sit exams if they don't like coursework grade

30 June 2020, 14:00 | Updated: 30 June 2020, 17:07

GCSE and A-level students will be able to sit special exams if they don't like the grade they received for their coursework.

The decision by Ofqual, a government body that oversees educational qualifications in England, effectively means that a full set of exams will be offered for all subjects in the autumn instead of the summer.

Qualifications issued will be exam-only, Ofqual said, with no coursework apart from in art and design.

The exam dates have yet to be confirmed but Ofqual said it expects AS and A levels to be held in October and GCSEs in November.

However, exam boards will be allowed to withdraw an exam if there have been no entries by the closing date.

Ofqual published the outcome of its consultation on exam guidance and arrangements for appeals this summer, set up after schools were closed in March.

It said it had decided to implement the majority of the proposals, including for autumn exams, which 46% of respondents agreed with.

In a statement posted on the GOV.UK website, the exam regulator said: "Exam boards must make exams available in all GCSE, AS and A level subjects in the additional autumn series and we are therefore varying our normal rules that allow exams only to be held in May and June.

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"Exam boards must base results on students' performance in exams alone and not on any non-exam assessment, with the exception of art and design qualifications.

"The exam boards must adopt the normal arrangements for reviews of marking and appeals."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the move would place more pressure on schools.

He said: "We are concerned about how schools and colleges will be able to accommodate and manage a full suite of autumn exams alongside the huge challenge of bringing all their pupils back in September, identifying learning gaps, and putting catch-up support in place.

"All of this will have to be done while managing the risks associated with coronavirus."

He added: "We had argued for the autumn series to be restricted to A-levels, and GCSE English and maths."

A-level and GCSE exams were cancelled in March, as schools across the UK were closed in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Results would instead be based on teachers' assessments and delivered, as usual, in August.

Boris Johnson announced a 10-year rebuilding programme for some of England's crumbling schools and colleges on Monday.

The prime minister promised new investment would fund the first major rebuilding programme to be launched since 2014.

As coronavirus cases in the UK are falling, lockdown restrictions are being eased and schools are set to reopen in September.