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Will Brexit impact GCSEs and A-levels?

Most young Britons do not support Brexit. Source: AFP/Daniel Leal-Olivas

There is no shortage of British industries affected by Brexit. In higher education, plenty of its consequences have received extensive coverage: experts quitting Britain for greener pastures, visa chaos for EU students and staff, loss of millions in research funding, to name a just few.

A recent exclusive by TES reveals another potential problem at hand: the disruption of GCSEs and A-level exams this summer.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, based on the April 12 departure date, traffic delays are expected due to increased checks at Dover and Calais, used by 11,000 lorries per day. It is estimated that an average lorry carrying food and goods from Calais would take eight hours to clear.

If this pans out in an extreme situation, pupils may not be able to arrive at their schools to sit their GCSEs and A-levels, according to exam board sources. Delays, relocations or alternative sites are possible in this “nightmare” scenario. If a large number of candidates are unable to sit a paper, exams across the country could be postponed.

One of the sources told TES: “The nightmare scenario you can envisage is if there’s a no-deal Brexit, and you end up with roads in Kent turning into carparks.

“You could literally end up with kids not able to get to school for their timetables exams.”

Lorries queue at the entrance of the port of Dover on the south coast of England on March 19, 2018. Source: AFP/Daniel Leal-Olivas

Britain’s exit from the EU has now been delayed until October as the April 12 deadline saw no deal approved. The extension appears to have averted the potential disruption on the summer exam season this year, which starts next month.

But the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), the representative body for the seven largest qualification providers in the UK, said they are “aware of, and are planning for, the different possible scenarios presented by the UK leaving the European Union”.

“JCQ is working with its member awarding organisations, government and regulators to finalise appropriate collective arrangements which might be needed to ensure all examinations and assessments for qualifications provided by JCQ members take place according to the published timetable,” it said.

A mural by British graffiti artist Banksy, depicting a workman chipping away at one of the stars on a European Union (EU) themed flag, at Dover. Source: AFP/Daniel Leal-Olivas

An Ofqual spokesperson said: “We are working closely with exam boards to ensure the summer series runs smoothly, and that any potential impacts of the UK’s planned departure from the EU are managed appropriately.

“Schools and colleges should also have their own contingency arrangements in place. Our website has more information on managing disruption during exams.”

Exams aside, school authorities are preparing for a no-deal Brexit causing massive traffic disruption and preventing school children from getting home. The country is expected to be hit the worst due to its proximity to Dover and Calais.

The Guardian reported that local authorities have advised schools on the possibility of taking on carer roles for “stranded” children whose parents are caught in traffic gridlock, as well as those on public transport and school coaches which may be affected if there is “panic buying” of fuel.

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