THE DECISION to cancel this Summer’s A-Level and GCSE exams has been called “the only thing that can be done.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced on Wednesday that this year’s Summer exams would be scrapped due to the amount of schooling students have missed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said in a statement to Parliament that Government has learnt lessons from last year: “Although exams are the fairest way we have of assessing what a student knows, the impact of this pandemic now means that it is not possible to have these exams this year.”

“I can confirm that GCSEs and A and AS Level exams will not go ahead this summer. This year we are going to put our trust in teachers rather than algorithms.”

Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for Schools and Education Sue Sanderson said: “I think it’s quite complex, personally I feel that it was the only thing that can be done.”

She added that circumstances mean children are missing varying amounts of schooling.

“It’s very hard to track, I think it has to be done on teacher assessments to make it as fair as it possibly can be.”

However, all possible solutions have their challenges.

“There’s no straight forward answer. You’re forgetting the exam question altogether. Some children are motivated by an exam and targets to aim for but others prefer working on course work and building a base through the year.”

Chris McAree, headteacher of William Howard School in Brampton said: “We welcome the announcement from the Secretary of State yesterday as it clarifies what had been a very confusing statement from the Prime Minister regarding exams on Monday. We now know at least what the basis for grades will be in very general terms.”

Mr McAree added that clarity is needed: “Next week should see OFQUAL start the consultation on the system for awarding the grades and we will wait to see what is proposed.

“That consultation needs to be about details about how the system will work, not just broad principles. The evidence schools will need to have to back up grades and crucially how the grades are going to be moderated are things that staff and students need to know as soon as possible.”

“The system will have to take into account the varying levels of disruption the students across the country in different regions and indeed within schools themselves have faced."

Mr McAree said: “It will be a difficult task and balancing act and I am sure the solution will not be a perfect one as ultimately the variability in student's experiences is so great.”

Since the confusion and U-turns of last Summer's exam season, figures in education have been calling on Government to devise a plan. Mr McAree said: "The students' learning has been severely disrupted over the last 12 months and we must make sure that whatever system is used, students have a fair and equitable opportunity to achieve what they are capable of. ”