‘50:50 chance' next year's school exams could be scrapped again as kids may have missed too much learning to catch up

NEXT year's GCSE and A-level exams have a '50:50' chance of being scrapped – because kids may have missed too much learning to catch up in time.

Tory MP Robert Halfon, chair of the education select committee, says exams regulator Ofqual should make a decision by October to avoid the fiasco faced by this year's students.

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If exams are ditched, grades would likely be awarded based on teachers' assessments of children's results in mock exams and work in class.

Mr Halfon, the MP for Harlow, also fears a surge of coronavirus cases this winter could force pupils back into learning from home, The Times reports.

His warning of a Covid spike follows a leaked Government report which sets out a "reasonable worst-case scenario" of 85,000 more deaths.

The report says there could be 77,000 coronavirus-related deaths in England, 4,000 in Wales, 2,600 in Scotland and 1,900 in Northern Ireland.

Mr Halfon said: "It is 50:50 that exams go ahead next summer.

"Schools, the Department for Education and Ofsted need to work out how much disruption there will be to pupils' learning in the coming year.

"Serious analysis needs to be done, and then they need to make an announcement about exams within the next few weeks."

In Scotland, pupils will be taught a restricted curriculum – and given more choice of exam questions – to help them aim for higher grades.

It's understood Ofqual was considering a similar scheme before its chief executive Sally Collier resigned this week.

Mr Halfon urged regulators to make their decision quickly.

It comes after tens of thousands of students had their scores downgraded by what Boris Johnson has called a "mutant algorithm".

After an outcry, the Government did a U-turn and said all kids would get their predicted grades instead – or whichever was higher.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says schools could rotate pupils on a 'two weeks on, two weeks off' rota if local lockdowns are introduced.

It comes as all pupils prepare to head back into classrooms next week.

Mr Williamson said pupils returning will have a “positive impact” in kick-starting the UK's economy following the nationwide lockdown.

Speaking to The Sun on Sunday, he said: “Let’s recognise the fact that with children going back, by opening up the schools for our children, we’re opening up the country for everyone. 

“Bringing towns and cities back to life, seeing people so much more out and about.

"I think that will be one of the added consequences of children being welcomed back.”

Ofqual says it's reviewing its options over exams.

“There are no plans to cancel either GCSEs or A-levels in 2021 or to curtail programmes of study," a spokesperson said.

"But we keep all plans constantly under review.”

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