Getting the grades they’ve earned: Covid-19: the cancellation of exams and ‘calculated’ grades Contents


1.In March 2020, as the Government responded to the threat of Covid-19, it was announced that schools and colleges would close for all but children of key workers and vulnerable children, and that national exams would be cancelled.1 Shortly afterwards, on 25 March 2020, we launched our inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on education and children’s services. We knew that exam cancellations would be a source of great anxiety and concern for pupils, families and teachers. As part of our inquiry, we invited written evidence on the effect of cancelling formal exams, including the fairness of qualifications awarded and pupils’ progression to the next stage of education or employment.

2.We were concerned about the fairness of this year’s system for awarding grades. We held an oral evidence session on 10 June 2020 to hear views on which groups might lose out from calculated grades, and what needed to be done to level the playing field for all pupils. We also received over 100 written submissions on exams from pupils, parents, teachers and the wider education sector, detailing their concerns about exam cancellations and calculated grades. We are grateful to all those who took the time to submit evidence, during what is a particularly busy and uncertain time.

3.This report focuses specifically on the cancellation of national exams, including GCSEs, AS and A levels, and vocational and technical qualifications. We would like to put on record our gratitude to schools, parents and children across the country for dealing with all the unprecedented educational challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. In particular, we thank the headteachers and teachers, and the support staff, cleaners and caretakers, who have kept schools open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children. We are also grateful for the work done to support children learning from home.

Published: 11 July 2020