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GCSE and A-Level exams will ‘absolutely’ go ahead this year, government says

GCSE and A-Level exams will ‘absolutely’ go ahead this year, government says
But Nadhim Zawhawi says government expects staff absences to be a problem in the immediate-term

Escola exams will definitely go ahead this year, the education secretary has said, amid concern about rising staff absences due to Covid-19.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon Nadhim Zahawi said GCSEs and A levels would “absolutamente” take place – after two years of disruption due to the pandemic.

But he warned that the immediate situation in schools was likely to get worse, with more staff absences due to illness and self-isolation expected.

We must do everything we can, everything in our power to keep all education and childcare settings open and teaching in-person,” he told MPs.

Schools will be suffering some degree of staff absences. At the end of last year the figure was about 8 per cent of staff off, and that is probably likely to rise with increasing cases in school and of course young people as we return to school.

Asked by Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis whetherexams will go ahead as normal and we will get back to [a] exam structure that everyone is so desperate to return to”, Mr Zahawi replied: “I can absolutely give him that assurance.

Some schools have reported that as many as one in five staff members could be missing following the Christmas holidays.

With term due to start again this week the Department for Education (DfE) told headteachers they should considercombining classesto keep face-to-face teaching in place.

And the government has introduced some changes, such as requiring children to wear face coverings, in a bid to reduce transmission.

Conservative MP Desmond Swayne was among Tories to query the masksreintroduction, asking whether it wasproportionate to test asymptomatic children and then when they’re negative to mask them up anyway”.

Mr Zahawi used the Commons exchange to defend the government’s policy of requiring children to wear masks tohelp reduce transmission at a time when rates of infection are high”.

Admitting that the situation wasnot ideal” ele adicionou: “My department has also looked at some observational data from a sample of 123 schools where face coverings had been in use in the autumn term and found that there was a greater reduction in Covid absence compared to those where students didn’t wear face coverings.

But Labour accused the government of not prioritising children’s education.

Children are having to be wrapped up in their coats to learn. It is incompetent, complacent and inadequate. Our children deserve better,” said shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson.

Ms Phillipson said that on December 30 “barely half of eligible children aged 12 and over had received even their first vaccination”.

And she highlighted a shortage of lateral flow tests, which the government is encouraging parents and children to take to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in schools

I looked last night at lateral flow tests online. There were none available for home delivery. We cannot test our children twice a week if there are not the tests available to do it,” ela disse.