Schools have been left with "more questions than answers" over cancelled GCSE and A-level exams, HMC general secretary Simon Hyde has said.

Dr Hyde said that if a school was managed as badly as the government had handled the crisis in schools it would “be beyond even the most special of special measures.”

His remarks came as education secretary Gavin Williamson announced that exams would be cancelled this year and replaced with "teacher assessment" because of disruption caused by Covid-19.

Dr Hyde wrote on a blog on the HMC website this week: “We are now in January and the teachers concerned have been given no idea of what they are assessing, when they are assessing it or how it is being assessed. Students are left in limbo and school leaders will be quietly fuming. If schools were run on this basis, they would be beyond even the most special of special measures.

“All of this was sadly foreseeable. Action in September to significantly reduce syllabus content would have provided students and teachers with certainty on which they could build. Developing confidence is an essential part of any good teacher’s job, but it does not appear to be a requirement for a Secretary of State.”

He expressed concerns over lost learning, the plight of disadvantaged students and how standards and a level playing field can be maintained.

He added: “We are told that teachers will be provided with the training and support necessary to ensure robust and fair grades this summer. They will legitimately ask: when will this be provided, who will provide it and how will time be made available?”

He also highlighted concerns for private candidates not attending institutions and international schools using British qualifications.

He added: “Schools and teachers will be doing all they can to keep students focused and engaged whether or not they are taking an examination, but they are also being given another massive responsibility normally exercised by examination boards. At present, we are rightly asking much of our teachers and school leaders, but it feels suspiciously to me as though the Secretary of State is looking to pass the buck.”