Uncertainty around exams in 2021 has left teachers and students across the globe with genuine concerns about whether their hard work will be recognised in the future due to the continuing effects of COVID-19.

As Ofqual launches a consultation to discuss proposals for assessing qualifications in 2021, teaching unions are already warning of possible delays. Schools incorporating the lifelines offered by the likes of ZOOM, Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom to deliver learning has become the new education norm. However, few advances have been seen in the provision of one of the most key aspects of the academic cycle, exams. Yet the survival of end point assessment for the future remains essential to understanding student progress in terms of knowledge, skills gained and the conceptual understanding of subject studied.

In 2020 Exam Boards were forced to cancel traditional exams where students gather in exam centres because of the need to maintain social distancing. Looking forward to 2021, a new approach is needed to deliver successful appraisal to offer reassurance, minimise disruption and improve confidence in the education system as a whole.

To achieve a sense of normality for summer 2021 exams, Cliffy Cooper, CEO of Online Music Exams (OME), which is a pioneering UK based company that delivers global access to automated online exam systems, agrees with the policy paper from the Department of Education published in April 2019 which said: ‘Supporting the development of the UK’s innovative EdTech businesses will be key to the success of our EdTech strategy.’

He said: ‘Exam bodies need to invest in secure, flexible, scalable, online examination platforms to allow a full range of tailored examinations, similar to the music ones we offer, to mitigate further exam disruption next summer. By adopting new ways, such as OME’s adaptable examination framework, they can provide secure and inclusive universal access, personalise opportunities, maintain social distancing, offer quick results and immediate retake possibilities whilst reducing costs and gaining environmental credentials.’

With students set to return to the classroom in September 2020, investment in secure, un-disrupted examinations for the future is needed to restore confidence in education and enhance the motivation for learning.

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