GCSE and A-Level exams due to take place this summer have been cancelled and will be replaced by teacher assessments as the coronavirus pandemic and the latest national lockdown continues to impact on education.
Details are still being “fine-tuned”, but a form of teacher assessed grades will be used.
Assessments already in place for vocational and technical qualifications such as BTECs can still continue if it’s right to do so.
Primary schools, secondary schools and colleges were told earlier this week to move to remote learning, except for vulnerable children and those of key workers, but nurseries and childminders are allowed to remain open.
Schools will remain closed until mid-February at the earliest, and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said in the House of Commons that closing schools was not a decision the government ever wanted to take.
Schools will be told to provide three to five hours of teaching and that concerns should go to a school in the first instance, then Ofsted.
Mr Williamson said: “We’re going to put our trust in teachers rather than algorithms”.
This comes after a controversial algorithm used to grade students last year saw almost 40% of A-Level grades reduced below teachers’ expectations.
He said: “We must curb the escalating cases of COVID throughout the country and prevent the National Health Service from being overwhelmed.
“I’d like to reassure everyone that our schools have not suddenly become unsafe, but limiting the number of people who attend them is essential when the COVID rates are climbing as they are now.”
The government wants to regularly test teachers for COVID, as well as those pupils still able to attend school, such as vulnerable students and children of key workers.
Mr Williamson added that England’s education system is in a “far better place” to cope with the closure of schools than during the first lockdown in March last year.
Boris Johnson said on Wednesday the lifting of restrictions would be a “gradual process” and that schools would be “the very first things to reopen”.