A small number of pupils may have to repeat a school year if they have missed too much education, a leading exam board figure has said.

According to Jill Duffy, chief executive of exam board Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR), the move may be necessary in instances where pupils cannot be awarded a grade as a result of disruption to their education.

Speaking at a Westminster Education Forum seminar, she reflected on the need to be honest with pupils when they have “lost so much learning” and could be disadvantaged.

While teachers will award grades for summer 2021, there is not a minimum amount of teaching that must be either delivered or assessed.

However head teachers must say if “sufficient content” has been taught when grade submissions are made, and Ms Duffy said a “small number” may not receive a grade.

“This may seem harsh, but it would be very wrong to place someone on a course for which they are ill-prepared, where they will struggle to keep up with their peers and which they may not complete,” she said.

Giving pupils the support they need

She said pupils in this situation would require plenty of support to enable them to succeed, and that the education system “will need to provide whatever it takes” to help them catch up.

“This could be through summer schools, or it could be that such students if they wish, should have the opportunity to retake a full year of study,” she added.

The general secretary of head teacher’s union ASCL, Geoff Barton, said that the decision to repeat a year would need to be “very carefully considered and planned before being undertaken”.

He suggested that schools would need to discuss the best course of action with pupils and their parents.

The Department for Education meanwhile has reiterated that head teachers should make decisions based on the amount of content taught.

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