.css-14iz86j-BoldText{font-weight:bold;}Teachers’ estimated grades will be used to replace cancelled GCSEs and A-levels in England this summer, says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

He told MPs he would “trust in teachers rather than algorithms”, a reference to problems in last year’s exam results.

Mr Williamson also said it would be “mandatory” for schools to provide “high-quality remote education” of three to five hours per day.

Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green, accused Mr Williamson of “chaos and confusion” – and said he had failed to listen to the “expertise of professionals on the front line”.

She said he had given a “cast-iron commitment” that exams would go ahead – and Ms Green said: “At that moment, we should have known they were doomed to be cancelled.”

Mr Williamson, in a statement to the House of Commons, said there would be “training and support” for teachers in estimating grades, “to ensure these are awarded fairly and consistently”.

Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union, warned against repeating the “shambles” of last summer’s cancelled exam season.

He said rather than a “vague statement” of how exams would be graded, ministers should already have a system ready in place – and it was a “dereliction of duty” that it was not already prepared.

The education secretary confirmed to MPs that GCSEs and A-levels are not going ahead – after this week’s decision that it was no longer feasible with so much time lost in the Covid pandemic and the latest lockdown.

The exams watchdog Ofqual will now have to come up with proposals for an alternative way of deciding results, which could be used for jobs, staying on in school or university places.

Last year’s attempts to find an alternative approach to exam results, which initially used an algorithm, descended into chaos – and eventually switched to using teachers’ grades.

And without any exam papers or standardised mock exams, the use of teachers’ grades, with some process of moderation, will be used for this summer’s candidates.

On vocational qualifications, Labour’s Ms Green said the education secretary was “failing to show leadership on exams in January”.

Vocational exams, such as BTecs, are carrying on, if schools and colleges decide to continue with them – but college leaders had complained that there needed to be a national decision to avoid confusion.

If students cannot take BTec exams this month as planned, they will still be awarded a grade, if they have “enough evidence to receive a certificate that they need for progression”, says the awarding body Pearson.

An Ofqual spokeswoman said they would consider options for replacement exam results, academic and vocational, “to ensure the fairest possible outcome in the circumstances”.

The exams watchdog’s decisions will face much scrutiny – with the previous head of Ofqual resigning after last summer’s U-turns over grades.

“We are discussing alternative arrangements with the Department for Education. We know that many are seeking clarity as soon as possible,” said Simon Lebus, Ofqual’s interim chief regulator.

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News – Teachers’ grades will replace exams in England