Sitting exams in 2020, what was new?


It’s been well documented that children’s education during the coronavirus pandemic has been hugely disrupted. For some children, a curriculum catch-up will be straight forward. It is no secret that the most disadvantaged children across the UK are set to be further disadvantaged and may never catch up.

Summer exam fiasco

One of the biggest upsets has been the summer exam fiasco. With no formal exams for GCSE or A level taking place in the summer of 2020, this led to a confusing time for students dealing with inaccurately calculated grades. After much outcry, students were awarded grades submitted by their school.

Autumn exams back on

Then came government advice outlining that schools could expect to hold the normal exam series for the autumn 2020 term. Government guidance did stress that candidates should still travel to their exams, even if there are local restrictions in place. There was always the option of an alternative building for the exams to take place in, at the discretion of the school.

Coronavirus plans

During lockdown and through the autumn term, schools were busy putting into place carefully planned protocols to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Plans for exams to resume in the autumn term have been no different, ideas that can be used throughout the academic year. The safe arrival of pupils at the beginning and end of each exam is paramount. Maintaining a social distance as pupils file into the exam hall to find their desk was crucial to prevent the spread of the virus.

Extra cleaning

Most people have a strong memory of rows of school desks lined up in the school hall ready to sit an exam. 2020 was not the same, but different – like many things in 2020. The school desks were further apart and frequently touched surfaces (like desks, chairs, door handles) were rigorously cleaned in between each exam.

Exam room desk set up

Each school desk was set up so that there was a minimum of 1.25 metres in all directions from the middle of the chair. To aid the social distancing rules, desks were all be facing the front of the room.

In summary

With all exams during 2021 being awarded ‘teacher assessed’ grades in the same way as 2020, we hope to see the academic year of 2022 and exam marking return back to normal.

Scrupulous infection control and social distancing measurers remain in place, within our educational establishments, we also hope that our disadvantaged children may now be given the opportunity to catch up!



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