Responsibility for autumn exams

Guidance for schools and colleges on who should enter students for autumn exams, the health arrangements for exams and the support DfE is providing.



This guidance is for:

  • school and college senior leaders, heads of exam centres
  • teachers, exams officers and other staff involved in exam delivery
  • local authorities and multi-academy trusts (MATs)

It sets out your responsibility for running exams in autumn 2020 and spring 2021.

‘School and college responsibility for autumn exams’ explains your responsibility for entering students in to the exams in autumn and how the cost of fees will be covered.

DfE exam support service: autumn exam fees, sites and invigilators’ explains how you can use the service to book alternative sites, DBS-checked staff for invigilation and cover essential additional costs.

‘Public health arrangements for autumn exams’ explains the key public health arrangements for exams in October and November to enable you to deliver exams in a coronavirus (COVID-19) secure way. This includes wearing of face coverings in exams, set up of the exam room, cleaning and arrival and departure of candidates.

‘Autumn exams’ in these guidance documents refers to the additional GCSE, AS and A level and vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs) which are being held in autumn 2020 following the cancellation of summer exams and assessments. It includes the additional VTQs which will be held in the 2021 spring term.

There’s separate guidance on the cancellation of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2020.

If you are a student, you should contact your school or college to discuss entering autumn exams. This should be the school or college where you were due to sit your summer exams. You may also find it useful to read Ofqual’s guidance for students on the autumn exams.

Published 22 May 2020
Last updated 29 September 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on public health arrangements for autumn exams to include information on autumn exam contingencies, candidate health and reasonable adjustments.

  2. Added 'Public health arrangements for autumn exams'.

  3. Updated responsibilities guidance with information about entering students for maths and English language GCSE and links to wider guidance for conducting exams. Added DfE exam support service guidance about paying for exam fees, booking alternative sites and booking exam invigilation.

  4. Updated key points and background sections.

  5. Updated guidance setting out the support that DfE is providing for autumn exams through the DfE Exam Support Service.

  6. First published.