Education secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed that next year’s GCSE and A-level exams will go ahead but with a delay of three weeks to allow for additional teaching.

The announcement came after exams watchdog Ofqual confirmed a number of small curriculum adjustments in some subjects.

Union leaders have been pressing for the Government to put forward a firm plan for exams next year that is not unfair on students who have missed out on learning due to coronavirus.

A number of university vice chancellors have even called for A-level exams to be cancelled to give students more time to learn.

Williamson said: “Fairness to pupils is my priority, and will continue to be at the forefront of every decision we take in the lead up to exams next summer.

“Exams are the fairest way of judging a student’s performance so they will go ahead, underpinned by contingency measures developed in partnership with the sector.

“Students have experienced considerable disruption and it’s right we give them, and their teachers, the certainty that exams will go ahead and more time to prepare.

“Combined with our £1bn catch-up programme and the changes proposed by Ofqual to free up teaching time, the changes I am announcing today give young people the best chance of being ready for their exams without undermining the value of the qualifications they receive.

“I will continue to work closely with stakeholders and I’m grateful for the commitment and willingness that’s been shown in delivering this additional time to ensure young people have the best opportunity to succeed.”

The summer exam series will start on June 7 2021 and end on July 2 for almost all AS/A-levels and GCSEs. Results days will be held on Tuesday 24 August for A/AS levels and Friday 27 August for GCSEs.

The Scottish government has already announced it is ditching exams for its National 5 qualifications, its equivalent of GCSEs, and will award grades using a new system of school assessments.