GCSE and A-Level exams for pupils in England will not happen again as normal this year, Boris Johnson confirmed today (January 4) while announcing a new lockdown.
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The Prime Minister said in a televised address that all schools will shut from tomorrow (January 5) until further notice to stem a severe surge of the coronavirus in England. Primary and secondary schools will close immediately and move to online learning for all pupils except children of key workers and the most vulnerable.
The new restrictions will mean it is “not possible or fair for all exams to go ahead this summer as normal”, Johnson said.
It’s the second year running that exams have been affected by the pandemic. Last year, GCSE and A-Level students were given predicted grades by their teachers, which were then “statistically standardised” by Ofqual.
The news comes as England enters a third nationwide lockdown, with new laws coming into force in the next 24 hours.
People living in England may now only leave their homes to shop for essentials, to go to work “if you absolutely cannot work from home”, to exercise, to seek medical assistance or to get a Covid test, or to escape domestic abuse.
According to the latest government figures, 58,784 new infections were recorded in the last 24 hours: the highest measured at any time during the pandemic.
The more transmissible variant of the coronavirus, Johnson added in his speech, has led to rapidly escalating case numbers. Given the alarming figures, he said it had become “clear that we need to do more” to bring the new fast-spreading variant “under control” and help the vaccination roll-out in the UK.
He added that the number of hospital patients has increased by almost a third to nearly 27,000 – almost a third higher than the peak of the first wave in April 2020.
News of the English lockdown comes hours after it was announced that a nationwide lockdown will be introduced in Scotland from midnight tonight (January 5) in a bid to halt rising levels of coronavirus infections.