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International Baccalaureate Examinations

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 January 2021

What arrangements his Department has made for examinations in 2021 for international baccalaureate students. (910847)

Although exams are the fairest way of assessing what a student knows, it is no longer viable for exams to go ahead as planned, so international baccalaureate students should be subject to a similar approach to GCSEs and A-levels. Working with Ofqual, we are consulting on alternative arrangements for fairly awarding grades in qualifications, including the IB, when exams do not take place, so that students can progress to the next stage of their lives.

Some of the schools in my constituency elect to take the IB examinations rather than A-levels. No final decision has yet been taken as to whether those exams will take place this spring, so will my right hon. Friend commit to assisting these schools, so that no child who takes the IB exam will be disadvantaged compared with those who are due to take A-levels?

I am aware of some excellent schools in my hon. Friend’s constituency, particularly Dartford Grammar School, under the excellent headteacher, Mr Oakes, that do offer the IB. The joint consultation document that we published on Friday says that

“it is the Department’s policy position that external exams for many vocational, technical and other general qualifications should not take place as planned.”

It goes on to say:

“For other general qualifications that are not GCSEs…or A levels, such as…the International Baccalaureate, the awarding approach should be similar to GCSEs, AS and A levels”.

In other words, we are talking about teacher-assessed grades but with the evidence base and checks and balances, as set out in the consultation document.