Exams in 2022 and beyond could be affected by Covid disruption, the Education Secretary has warned.

Gavin Williamson admitted he "very much expects" mitigations and adjustments to be in place for GCSE and A-level exams in the coming years.

Speaking at an education select committee hearing, Mr Williamson said: "We very much hope and intend for exams to go ahead in 2022, and vocational technical qualifications as well. We are considering what we need to do to ensure there is fairness and the right level of support for pupils as they take these qualifications."

Mr Williamson described how, when A-levels and GCSEs return in 2022 after two years of exams being cancelled due to the pandemic, it will not be "the absolutely same state of situation as it was back in 2019".

Asked whether there will be mitigating circumstances for pupils or changes to exams in the coming years, he said: "We very much expect mitigations and adjustments to be put in place because I think that those youngsters who currently are in Year 10 and Year 12 will have obviously suffered disruption as a result of the pandemic."

Field trips to be axed in exam changes

The exam watchdog has announced that a raft of changes will be made to GCSEs and A-levels in 2022 to accommodate the disruption schools experienced over the past year.

Field trips for geography GCSE and A-level – as well as other subjects such as geology and environmental sciences – will all be axed from the course requirements. Questions relating to field trips will be stripped from exam papers.

Students taking French, Spanish and German GCSEs will be required to learn less vocabulary than in a normal year, according to the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation.

Rather than using machinery and tools themselves, design and technology students at both GCSE and A-level could watch teachers demonstrate how to use them. Exam boards should accept "mock-ups" and detailed intentions of how prototypes would be built.

Dance performances will be shorter, and students will be examined based on two solo performances rather than one solo performance and one quartet.

Mr Williamson told MPs he would "far prefer to see children sitting exams" in 2022, but added: "We very much recognise that we can’t predict what we are going to be facing over the coming years. We’re considering what we need to do to ensure that there’s fairness and there’s the right level of support for pupils."

During the committee hearing, Mr Williamson was asked about teaching of the concept of white privilege in schools.

He said schools should be politically impartial, adding: "There is no space for schools to be showing sort of political views or trying to sort of push that in any form or way whatsoever and that’s something that needs to be always remembered."