School leaving exams start today amid concerns about coronavirus impact


School leaving exams start for 137,000 secondary school pupils on Thursday and this year there will no allowances for the coronavirus pandemic.

It is the first time since 2019 that teenagers will take ‘normal’ exams without the more flexible rules about failing introduced during the pandemic, even though some teachers say pupils are still suffering from the impact of lockdowns and school closures.

In 2020 the exams were scrapped altogether and in 2021 and 2022 pupils were given extra options for retakes and were allowed to drop one subject.

‘The coronavirus period is still having an impact on pupils,’ said a spokesman for the secondary school council VO-raad. ‘Pupils, teachers and parents have all said that the group now taking the exams needed more time and support.’

Both the council and the school pupils union Laks had urged the government to keep the more flexible rules in place.

Pupils in vwo, havo and vmbo streams start their exams today. Schools with a focus on practical education have been planning their own tests since April 2.

As every year, Laks will run a complaints phone line for pupils who want to report problems.

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