The leader of the biggest union for school leaders has dismissed the idea of next year’s GCSEs and A-levels being taken online, the TES reports.

Ofqual chair Roger Taylor suggested the idea be used as a “Plan B” when he appeared before the Commons Education Select Committee earlier this month

But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) told the TES that the concept was not realistic.

He said: “The Roger Taylor online testing thing strikes me as utter pie-in-the-sky [thinking] given the timescale, in so far as it’s really difficult to see how, if you are doing A-level history, which is reliant on doing essays and so on, suddenly those exam conditions are going to be translated into an online format?

"After all, in the UK, we have this kind of Fort Knox security system around exams, so the idea that suddenly we’re going to revert to people sitting at their kitchen tables, doing their exams – and none of us quite knowing whether it’s you, your mum, your dad or your brother who got an A* in history last year who is actually doing the paper – raises so many questions."

Mr Barton questioned how an online testing system would be possible given that many young people had lost out on remote learning through lack of internet access.

Ofqual confirmed that its preference was for exams to take place in 2021 and a timetable was being agreed with exam boards to “maximise teaching and learning time”.

It said online testing was “unlikely to be the answer” as a back-up to traditional exams.