The reopening of UK schools and important 2021 exam updates


It was announced this week that students in UK schools will not be sitting IB exams this summer. The decision was taken by the IBO in conjunction with the UK examinations regulator, Ofqual, and follows the decision earlier in the year to cancel all A-Level and GCSE exams in UK schools. The announcement at least provides some certainty for schools and students. Grades will probably be awarded on the basis of coursework and predicted grades, but the final details are still to be confirmed. IB exams are still scheduled to go ahead in 70% of IB schools worldwide.


Cambridge Assessment (CIE) have also announced that IGCSE exams will not go ahead in the UK this summer, although they will run elsewhere in the world. IGCSE is the preferred option in most subjects for many independent schools, and until this week it was not known if the exams would be held.

This effectively means that no external examinations will be held in UK schools this summer. Students, parents and teachers now await clarification on exactly how students will be assessed. Given the huge disruption faced over the past year, we can only hope that the final grades awarded will be fair and allow students to progress smoothly to the next stage of their education.


The other big question mark is when schools will be able to reopen. The UK Prime Minster, Boris Johnson, is expected to make an announcement on 22 February, and the likelihood is that many pupils will be able to return to school on 8 March, but it is not known yet whether this will be a gradual phasing in, starting with specific year groups, or whether there will be a full reopening. Many headteachers would favour a staggered approach to allow for comprehensive testing and close monitoring. For international families whose children have not returned to the UK this term, it would make little sense to plan for a return to school before the start of the summer term towards the end of April.