The government is taking too long to come up with a viable plan for GCSE and A-level exams next year, unions have warned.

Geoff Barton from the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) told The Independent the government “needs to show a greater sense of urgency”. 

This week, educational organisations put forward their proposals for next year’s exams, calling for contingency plans if pupils cannot sit exams or their preparation is badly disrupted. They have also suggested giving students more choice over what questions to answer. 

The group – which includes the ASCL and the school leaders’ union NAHT – also suggested students facing exams this academic year should be prioritised for Covid-19 testing.

Paul Whiteman general secretary of the NAHT said. “Qualifications awarded on the basis of a series of exams, where students’ experiences of teaching and learning next year could be very different because of local lockdowns or other restrictions, will be unfair and may lead to additional disadvantage for some students compared to others.

“The right approach to alleviate this issue is the adjustment to assessments and exams in 2021 to take account of the fact that students may not have covered the full course content.”

Mr Barton added that simply delaying the exams a few weeks was not enough compared to the scale of the disruption called by coronavirus.