University vice-chancellors have said A-level exams should be cancelled this academic year so that students affected by Covid-19 disruption don’t waste time on assessment.

Sir David Eastwood and Sir Chris Husbands, the heads of Birmingham University and Sheffield Hallam University, supported by a number of others, said A-levels should be scrapped in 2021 to allow for extra weeks’ teaching time.

They wrote in The Times this week: “[Students] need all the time for learning they can possibly get.”

They pointed out that teacher assessment had been used this year and could be used again, although the government says it wants the exams to go ahead next summer, albeit with a slight delay.

Professor Eastwood and Professor Husbands write: “We urgently need to mitigate the impacts of further disruption on our young people,

“One generation has lived through the chaos of the ‘virtual’ A-levels, U-turns and fraught 2020 university admissions . . . decisions need to be made now to give teachers, universities and students certainty.”

Their plan is to “extend learning all the way through this academic year, until July”.

They wrote that exam boards could develop a better moderation process than the algorithm that caused chaos this summer.

They add: “Our approach would have huge benefits. It would give students certainty and remove the worry that learning would be interrupted by a local lockdown. It would give universities certainty about assessments. It would ease progression from school to university for learners whose education has been so interrupted.”

Other vice-chancellors supported the two academics’ views including Sir Anthony Seldon, from Buckingham University.