Coronavirus (COVID-19)


COVID-19 Learning, curriculum and assessment

COVID-19 Learning, curriculum and assessment

Full opening of Schools guidance includes:

  • Section 3 - Curriculum, behaviour and pastoral support
  • Section 4 - Assessment and accountability

What is the expectation on curriculum for academic year 2020/21

Full opening of Schools guidance includes:

  • Section 3 - Curriculum, behaviour and pastoral support
  • Section 4 - Assessment and accountability

Ofqual Guide to AS and A level results 2020

Guide to AS and A level results for England, 2020 Ofqual’s guide to the 2020 AS and A level results in England


Autumn term exams

Joint Council for Qualifications has announced the timetable for GCE A, AS and GCSE in all subjects available in autumn 2020.

DfE’s guidance on Centre responsibility for autumn GCSE, AS and A level exam series sets out that expectations on the centre that entered them for the summer series to enter them in the autumn series and take overall responsibility for ensuring that they have somewhere appropriate to sit their exams.


Exams in 2021

Exams and assessments in 2021 Ofqual confirms changes to GCSEs, AS and A levels next year, following consultation; and publishes new proposals for adjustments to VTQs

Changes to timing of GCSEs and A levels 2021

On the 12th October, the government announced that the summer exam series will start on 7 June and end on 2 July for almost all AS and A levels and GCSEs.

Results days are Tuesday 24 August for A and AS levels and Friday 27 August for GCSEs so students will start the following academic year as normal.


Primary assessment

The Department for Education (DfE) has published guidance to help schools prepare for the next academic year. The intention is for the early years foundation stage (EYFS) profile and all existing statutory key stage 1 and 2 assessments to return in 2020/21, following their usual timetable. This includes the:

  • end of key stage 1 and key stage 2 assessments (including tests and teacher assessment)
  • phonics screening check
  • year 4 multiplication tables check
  • statutory trialling


Phonics screening check – year 2 pupils

As the June 2020 Phonics Screening Check was cancelled the current cohort of year 2 pupils have not yet taken the test. Therefore, in the 2020/21 academic year only, it is statutory for schools to administer a past version of the Phonics Screening Check to year 2 pupils during the second half of the 2020 Autumn term and return results to the LA.

Year 2 pupils who meet the expected standard in phonics in the Autumn check will not be required to complete any further phonics screening checks. Year 2 pupils who do not meet the expected standard in the autumn check will be expected to take the statutory check in June 2021, alongside year 1 pupils.

Current year 3 pupils, who were due to take the statutory check (as year 2 pupils) in June 2020, are not formally required to take the autumn check.

Key dates

Friday 23 October

Schools should order braille versions of the 2017, 2018 or 2019 phonics screening check, if required.

Second half of the Autumn term

Schools must administer a past version of the phonics screening checks to pupils in year 2.

By the end of the 2020 Autumn term

Schools must submit phonics results for their year 2 pupils to the LA

Schools can choose from the past phonics screening check materials used in 2017, 2018 and 2019.  If pupils have already seen all the past materials available, schools should choose the version that the pupils are least familiar with or the version that they completed the longest time ago.  Schools can use check materials from different years for pupils in the same cohort, if required.

The full STA guidance on administering the check to Year 2 pupils can be found below. Administering the phonics screening check to year 2 pupils in the 2020 autumn term

Any questions can be directed to


Implementation of the engagement model(replacing P scales)

The engagement model is the new assessment (replacing P scales 1 to 4) for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum assessments and not engaged in subject-specific study. The STA published the engagement model guidance in March 2020 and intended that it would become statutory from September 2020.
Following the disruption caused by coronavirus, they recognise that some schools may not have had the opportunity to engage with the guidance and training opportunities, and as a result may be less prepared to implement the engagement model. Therefore, the 2020/21 academic year will be a transitionary year (subject to the necessary legislation being made) where schools will have the time to prepare for, and start embedding, the engagement model by:

  • identifying the relevant cohort of pupils
  • using the engagement areas to observe and assess the level of engagement for individual pupils
  • evaluating the curriculum

The STA will also use a flexible approach for the submission of teacher assessment outcomes at the end of key stages 1 and 2. Schools that have used the engagement model will be able to report against it, and schools that need more time to implement this change will continue to have the option to assess against P scales 1 to 4, for one final year.  The expectation is that the engagement model will become statutory from September 2021.

EYFS reforms

The government’s response to the EYFS reforms consultation confirmed that the EYFS reforms early adopter year will be going ahead for primary and infant schools that choose to participate. All schools that had previously signed up to become early adopters were contacted on 6 July 2020 to confirm participation.

Schools that do not choose to be early adopters of the EYFS reforms, along with all other early years providers, must continue to follow the current 2017 EYFS framework in the 2020/21 academic year.


Reception baseline assessment early adopter year

The statutory introduction of the reception baseline assessment (RBA) has been postponed until September 2021. Instead, schools have the flexibility to opt into the RBA early adopter year in 2020/21. Details of how to register were emailed to schools from the STA on 25 June 2020.


Publishing of performance data

The government state, in the following guidance: Coronoavirus COVID-19 school and college performance measures:

We will not be publishing school, college or multi-academy trust (MAT) level performance data based on summer 2020 tests, assessments and exams at any phase.

We will not be publishing, or sharing, school, college or MAT level accountability measures, such as Progress 8 and level 3 value added, using the summer 2020 data.

The performance tables that were due to be released in October and December 2020, and in January and March 2021, will not go ahead.

We will also not publish any institution-level qualification achievement rates in the national achievement rate tables for the 2019 to 2020 academic year.


Department for Education case studies

The Department for Education has been working with schools to develop guidance based on the current experiences and practices of teachers and school leaders.  It has published a number of case studies to support schools during this period, with examples of practice for remote education from schools and academies across England-  to see all of the case studies see: Remote education practice for schools during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The guidance outlines some approaches that have worked for schools and includes case studies and information about:


Education Endowment Support

The Education Endowment Foundation has published A COVID-19 Support Guide for Schools. This guide is designed to help teachers and school leaders support their pupils effectively. It summarises support strategies that school leaders may consider including as part of their response to the pandemic.

COVID-19 Support Guide for Schools


Ofsted inspections

Routine Ofsted inspections will remain suspended for the autumn term. However, during the autumn term, inspectors will visit a sample of schools to discuss how they are managing the return to education of all their pupils. These will be collaborative discussions, taking into account the curriculum and remote education expectations set out in this document, and will not result in a judgement. A brief letter will be published following the visit. The insights that inspectors gather will also be aggregated nationally to share learning with the sector, the government and the wider public. In addition, Ofsted has the power to inspect a school in response to any significant concerns, such as safeguarding.

It is intended that routine Ofsted inspections will restart from January 2021, with the exact timing being kept under review.


Catch-up support

One-off grant funding will be paid to all state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in the 2020 to 2021 academic year to support catch-up. Whilst headteachers will decide how the money is spent, the Education Endowment Foundation has published guidance on effective interventions to support schools. For pupils with complex needs, the government strongly encourages schools to spend this funding on catch-up support to address their individual needs.

Alongside this universal offer, we will roll out a National Tutoring Programme, with the aim of delivering  proven and successful tuition to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable young people, accelerating their academic progress and preventing the gap between them and their more affluent peers widening. The evidence shows that tutoring is an effective way to accelerate learning, and we therefore believe a targeted tutoring offer is the best way to narrow the gaps that risk opening up due to attendance at school being restricted.


Remote education support

Where a class, group or small number of pupils need to self-isolate, or there is a local lockdown requiring pupils to remain at home, the government expects schools to have the capacity to offer immediate remote education.

For full details, see Full opening of Schools guidance.

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