Let’s end the uncertainty around exams 2021

30 September 2020
We know from polls we conducted throughout the coronavirus outbreak that parents are acutely concerned about the impact the pandemic will have on their child’s outcomes.

This isn’t merely in terms of missed schooling and falling behind on their studies, but also the lasting toll the crisis will take on their child’s mental health, including how quickly they can adapt to a new normal’ now that schools have returned. Understandably, the parents expressing the most concern are those with children in cohorts that are expecting to take exams in the coming years, or who are choosing their subjects in readiness.

In 2020, when governments throughout the UK announced that exams were cancelled, this understandably caused parents and pupils a lot of anxiety. It raised many questions about how their grades could be fairly allocated, given that they had missed a chunk of the curriculum through no fault of their own, and ultimately would be unable to take their destiny into their own hands under standard examination conditions. The ensuing chaos surrounding the allocation of grades on results days in all corners of the UK proved to be a profoundly stressful time for families and the teaching profession, generating miles of newspaper headlines and commentary as the controversy rumbled on. 

Getting it right in 2021

It is important that in 2021 and beyond, the same crisis point is not reached. However, as the Prime Minister has said, coronavirus is, for now, a fact of life, and we are not going to see a return to pre-Covid-19 conditions any time soon. It’s therefore vitally important that measures are put into place now to plan for 2021’s exams. 

Influencing decision-makers

Parentkind will present parent voice to policymakers. We will share our survey results with government education departments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as with other education stakeholders. We are calling for plans and contingency measures for 2021’s exams to be announced as soon as possible, to put the minds of parents and students at rest. With the lingering uncertainty around plans for next year’s exams, now is the time for parents to have their say on what we already know is an area of huge concern for them.

Parents with concerns about 2020’s autumn exams resits should see the DfE’s recently-published guidance.