Heads warned that with just six months to go before pupils sit GCSEs and A-levels it is “unacceptable” they still do not know what will be done to level the playing field.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to announce that youngsters will be given information prior to entering the exam hall, and will be able to take additional supporting material such as books in with them.
But headteachers have not been given any official information.
Beth Dawson, head of Sutton High School, said: “We are almost in December. We have exams starting in six months. There is still an enormous amount of uncertainty. It is unacceptable we don’t have a clear plan of action yet.
“We are being kept in the dark and there are increasing levels of anxiety. Everything that has been talked about has been vague. We need to know as soon as possible so we can make sure our pupils and teachers are prepared. We can manage most eventualities providing we know what they are.”
Ashid Ali, Principal of London Enterprise Academy in Tower Hamlets said: “As a school leader, it would be useful if I could get some idea of what is going to be allowed. The more guidance we can get the better, and the earlier the better.”
The Association of School and College Leaders said the length of time it is taking to make a decision is “very frustrating.”
Emma Pattison, head of Croydon High School, said she supports the idea of ‘open book’ exams, but added: “For goodness sake – no U-turns this time.”
Among the measures expected to be announced are asterisks on exam certificates for children whose grades were affected by learning loss.
Mr Williamson is also expected to announce that exams will be graded more generously to compensate pupils whose education suffered in the pandemic.
In the most extreme cases pupils will be able to ask for “special consideration” in the same way as if they were disadvantaged by illness.
Exams are already being delayed by three weeks to allow pupils to catch up.
Mr Ali warned against labelling children as “Covid children”. He said: “They have learned many other things during the pandemic, such as resilience and managing their time.”