Now is a “once in a generation opportunity” to reform our “out of date” exams system, Sir Peter Lampl has said.
Writing in The Independent, the founder and chair of the Sutton Trust education charity said it was time to “reject the brakes on progress” that had so far hindered previous attempts to adopt a broader baccalaureate-style system to replace GCSEs and A-levels.
He went on to say that after two summers with exams “going up in smoke”, it would be difficult to return to normality.
He wrote: “It is, frankly, extraordinary, if one stops to think about it, that two summers of GCSEs and A-levels have simply gone up in smoke as a result of Covid-19.
“As recently as 12 months ago such an idea would have been unimaginable, and many are no doubt horrified that such action was ever allowed to happen, but now we must turn our minds to what next.
“Many will assume that if the vaccine sees off the worst of the pandemic then GCSEs and A-levels will simply be reinstated from the summer of 2022. But I’m not so sure.
“Such a move is much easier said than done, for two very different reasons. Firstly, it will be very hard technically: the distribution of grades, as was, had a dependency on using previous cohorts’ results, and the absence of two sets of data will make any reinstatement problematic.
“Secondly, many among the year group facing the prospect of the return to GCSEs and A-levels will no doubt, and with good reason, plead that such a move would be unfair to their prospects, not least of all because they too will have missed out on significant chunks of schooling. And that’s even before you consider the consequences for this cohort of any attempt to put the huge grade inflation genie back into the bottle.”
Sir Peter joined the chorus of voices – not least the Rethinking Assessment campaign group – in calling for reform after the pandemic.
He wrote: “It is frankly daft that young people pick, as early as 15, just one subject to study through a three- or four-year university degree, a decision with major repercussions for the rest of their lives.”