Tuesday 5 January 2021 / 5:05 PM Education / Toby Perkins

Government must cancel BTEC exams to prevent fundamentally unfair grades, Labour warns

Labour says the government must cancel BTEC exams and work with schools and colleges to develop a genuinely fair alternative as part of changes to summer exams.

Despite schools and colleges being closed throughout the national lockdown, BTEC and vocational and technical exams are due to be taking place this week. Colleges and sector representatives are warning that they cannot go ahead fairly or safely for students, with some colleges having already taken the decision to cancel exams for their students.

The government has made no adaptations to these exams despite many students having experienced disrupted learning due to periods of self-isolation. Colleges have also had to make adaptations, such as the introduction of rotas, in order to make practical teaching Covid-19 secure, meaning many pupils have had less practical teaching than would be expected.

Despite setting out plans for exams due to take place in the summer term, the government has set out no support for the 135,000 students taking exams nor for colleges to cover additional costs such more space to enable social distancing and cleaning of exam halls.

Toby Perkins MP, Shadow Minister for Apprenticeships and Lifelong Learning, said:

“BTEC exams simply cannot go ahead safely and fairly this week. The government must cancel them and work with schools and colleges to develop a genuinely fair alternative for pupils this summer.

“When the Prime Minister announced the cancellation of summer GCSE and A-level exams, he did not even mention BTEC students taking exams this week.

“Once again BTEC students who have missed out on lots of core practical teaching this year are an afterthought for this government.”