Will 2022 exams be scrapped? Next summer's round of tests could be axed if Covid surges again, schools minister warns

Exams next summer could be cancelled if the virus surges, the schools minister has said.

Nick Gibb revealed the Government has already drawn up a 'contingency plan' to scrap exams for the third year in a row.

This could mean A-level and GCSE pupils will be assessed by teachers again. A consultation on the details is being planned.

Mr Gibb told the Commons education committee that he had to prepare for the worst but youngsters should assume exams were going ahead. 

Nick Gibb revealed the Government has already drawn up a 'contingency plan' to scrap exams for the third year in a row (stock image)

Nick Gibb revealed the Government has already drawn up a 'contingency plan' to scrap exams for the third year in a row (stock image)

He said: 'We don't want to cancel exams. 

'But we do know that teachers and the school sector do want details of the contingency because they want to know what data they might or might not need to collect.'

His comments came as it was revealed that only 41 schools out of 21,600 are due to receive carbon dioxide monitors this week despite the devices being a key Covid-prevention measure. 

A Department for Education spokesman said the rest were being sent out 'as quickly as possible'. 

Asked about the likelihood of cancellations, Mr Gibb replied: 'My view throughout the pandemic has been that you have to plan for the worst.

'And my experience so far in the pandemic is that that has generally happened.

'But I genuinely hope that from now on it will not be like that. But we still have to plan for the worst.'

Mr Gibb (pictured) told the Commons education committee that he had to prepare for the worst but youngsters should assume exams were going ahead

Mr Gibb told the Commons education committee that he had to prepare for the worst but youngsters should assume exams were going ahead

Mr Gibb pointed out there was also a contingency plan for the 2021 exams being cancelled - which they ended up having to put into action.

Ian Bauckham, interim chairman of Ofqual, added that work is 'quite advanced' on this year's plan.

He said: 'We are planning a joint consultation with the Department for Education again later this autumn to propose a contingency plan should the unthinkable happen and examinations are again disrupted.'

It is understood exams could have to be cancelled again if schools are ordered to close for periods - for example if the vaccine becomes less effective and hospitalisations spiral out of control.

In 2021 and 2020, pupils' grades were awarded by teachers in the absence of exams - leading to significant grade inflation.

Last year almost half of all A-level grades were awarded A or A*.

Even if exams take place this year, ministers are still deliberating whether to allow inflated grades to continue.

Pressed on the issue, Mr Gibb said he wanted grading to be 'fair' when compared with the last two years.

But Mr Bauckham said this needed to be balanced against the risk of 'baking in' grade inflation.