Exclusive: Students to be told in advance which topics will appear on 2021 exams, under Ofqual plans
Students are to be told in advance which topics will appear on 2021 exam papers, under plans being considered by the regulator.
The proposals would involve exam boards telling schools which subject areas will be covered in GCSE and A-level papers, meaning that teachers can prepare pupils to answer particular questions.
Revealing the topics ahead of exams would allow teachers to concentrate on making sure pupils are familiar with those areas rather than attempting to make their way through the entire curriculum.
It is seen as a way of compensating for the amount of disruption that pupils have faced due to the pandemic which could put them at a disadvantage when it comes to exams.
Headteacher representatives were briefed on the plans last night [WEDS] which are due to be unveiled by the exams watchdog in the coming weeks, The Telegraph understands.
“They were talking about revealing the topics that the questions will be on early so that teachers can teach the topics that will come up,” a source said.
School leaders cautiously welcomed the plans but said they did not go far enough to address the amount of classroom time that teenagers have missed out on.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that pre-releasing topics would work “as part of a suite of measures to recognise the fact that some young people have missed out on a lot of learning but it won’t be enough in its own right”.
He added: “We need to see what the full suite of measures are”.
Earlier this week heads warned that school attendance has plunged into chaos after the proportion sending classes home to self-isolate doubled in a week.
Between 18 and 20 per cent of schools sent 30 or more pupils home last week to isolate, up from 8-9 per cent the week before, according to the latest official data published by the Department for Education (DfE).
Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of all secondaries in England sent at least one pupil home last week, up from 38 per cent the previous week.
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) has spent the past month drawing up “contingency plans” for next summer’s GCSEs and A-levels.
These are believed to include scheduling extra exams so that if students miss one due to self-isolation, they are able to take it at another time instead.
The Welsh Government has already cancelled all exams on the basis that disruption caused by the pandemic has made it "impossible to guarantee a level playing field”.
Instead, pupils in Wales will undertake a series of assessments, some of which will be overseen by teachers while others will be externally marked but taken in the classroom.Schools will be able to decide when pupils should take the tests.
Meanwhile in Scotland the National 5 exams – which are equivalent to GCSEs – will not go ahead next spring and that awards will instead be granted based on coursework and teacher judgement.
Senior figures – including Margaret Thatcher’s education secretary Sir Kenneth Baker – have called for exams in England to be cancelled and replaced with classroom based assessments.
But Downing Street has insisted that exams in England will go ahead next summer with a three week delay to allow for more teaching time. Officials at the DfE have insisted that they are the “fairest way” to judge a pupil’s performance.