Plans for 2022 summer exams announced - AoC responds

30 Sep 2021

Responding to the plans set out by the government for summer exams in 2022, Chief Executive of AoC, David Hughes said: 

“Students and colleges want the assessment system for this academic year to be as fair as possible and to be as certain and stable as it can be given all of the disruption and uncertainties of the last 18 months. So it is good to see the way forward being published today.  

There is no perfect way forward on grading given the different levels of disruption experienced by students over the last two years. Given that, the adaptations and additional support being planned for next summer and the general approach to grading being proposed are sensible and proportionate. Most importantly, they look like they will provide a safety net for learners so that they are not at any greater disadvantage given the disruptions to learning they might have suffered.  

While the future looks more settled, we know the public health context can change and there is no guarantee that all exams will be able to take place next summer so we are keen to see early decisions on robust and workable contingency arrangements. There is understandable anxiety amongst teachers, lecturers, students and parents about what will happen if learning or exams are disrupted again, so it is important to ensure students’ hard work and achievements can be recognised.

I am very pleased that the government has listened to our advice to return to the pre-pandemic pattern of level 3 and level 2 results days in separate weeks later in August. Colleges are both ‘sending’ and ‘receiving’ institutions and they need to be able to support their leavers as well as their new starters.

We also need to look beyond 2022 and have a serious conversation about the future of exams and assessment and whether we can reduce our dependence on expensive high-stakes external written exams which are not necessarily the best preparation for work or further study. We know from vocational and technical assessments that a blended approach to grading can be very effective and fairer.”