It is understandable that there is “anxiety” over exam grades, the prime minister has said, as pupils prepare to receive results this week for tests cancelled during lockdown.
Visiting a school in London, Boris Johnson said he was also “very, very keen that exams should go ahead as normal” in the coming academic year.
A-level results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are due on Thursday.
It comes as ministers try to persuade parents that reopening schools is safe.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said there was little evidence of coronavirus being transmitted in schools and the plan to fully reopen England’s schools in September was guided by the best science.
Government advisers have warned the nation may have reached the limit of what can be reopened in society safely.
Asked on a visit to a school in east London whether parents should brace for local closures to combat flare-ups of the virus, Mr Johnson said education was a priority.
“The last thing we want to do is close schools. Education is a priority for the country – that is simple social justice,” he said.
And with pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland awaiting A-level results this week, Mr Johnson said he wanted their hard work “properly reflected”.
“Clearly, because of what has happened this year, there is some anxiety about what grades pupils are going to get, and everybody understands the system that the teachers are setting the grades, then there’s a standardisation system,” he said.
“We will do our best to ensure that the hard work of pupils is properly reflected.”
The PM’s comments came as pressure mounted on Scotland’s Education Secretary John Swinney to U-turn over grades for cancelled exams after protests from pupils.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority lowered grades estimated by teachers using an algorithm – with pass rates for pupils in deprived areas downgraded further than those in more affluent parts.
Schools across the UK closed on 20 March, except to children of key workers or vulnerable children. On 1 June, they began a limited reopening for early years pupils, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
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