More than half of teachers would adopt online exams if they were available in their subject, a new survey has revealed.

A survey by exam board Pearson Edexcel of 1,100 teachers revealed that 51% would use onscreen assessment now if it were available in their subject area, while 77% said they would like more technology to be used in teaching and exams.

In total, 95% said that they needed more training in this area.

A report by Pearson found that a lack of good internet connection in schools, security issues, and the digital divide between poorer pupils and their peers could be holding the UK back from adopting online exams at GCSE and A level.

The report also suggests that the “rigidity” of the current exams system, with whole cohorts taking their exams at the same time, could “make the delivery of onscreen assessment more difficult logistically”.

Herald Series: A lack of good internet connection in schools is one of the reasons why the UK could be held back from introducing online exams (PA)A lack of good internet connection in schools is one of the reasons why the UK could be held back from introducing online exams (PA)

Hayley White, assessment director at Pearson, said that online exams could allow pupils to sit GCSEs or A levels at any point in the year.

She added: “In the future, onscreen assessment could be on-demand making it possible for students to sit exams when they’re ready during the academic year, rather than the current fixed points in the summer."


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What does the report suggest?

The report suggests that controversy over exam grading by algorithm in 2020, in the first year of the pandemic when full public exams were cancelled, may have made parents more receptive to changing the format of GCSEs and A levels.

“Controversy over algorithmic grading during the pandemic has also led many parents to consider the exam system for the first time, meaning that they may be more receptive to system changes,” it says.

It adds that online GCSEs could also be adaptive to pupils’ ability, removing the need for tiered exam papers, whereas pupils sitting a foundation tier GCSE paper cannot achieve the top grades, as grades are capped at GCSE Grade 5.