THE principal of a school near Oswestry has labelled the Department for Education (DfE) 'irresponsible' after it took the decision to cancel GCSEs and A-levels because of the coronavirus outbreak.

With schools closed to all students bar those whose parents are keyworkers, such as in the NHS, the decision was taken to cancel all exams in the summer.

In a letter to students and parents, George Budd, who is principal of Moreton Hall School in Weston Rhyn, expressed sympathy for those pupils who have worked towards taking their exams, and criticised the lack of information coming from public bodies.

And he was full of praise for his staff and students who he says have shown great flexibility towards their learning in recent days.

"Resilience, adaptability and positivity are hallmarks of a Moreton education and now, more than ever, our students and staff are showing those qualities in spades," he said.

"The efforts the staff are going to so as to ensure that learning continues have been extraordinary. It’s often said that times like this are when a community shows its true colours.

"Everyone here has worked tirelessly in recent weeks to ensure the ongoing education of our students in the broadest possible sense. I am so very proud of every member of our community and all we stand for.

"I’m sure you were all as surprised as we were to hear that this summer’s GCSE and A-level examinations have been cancelled due to COVID-19. The government continues to make contingency plans around the awarding of grades based on coursework, mocks and teacher assessment.

"While the feeling in our Upper Five and Upper Sixth Houses was initially one of elation at not having to take papers in May and June, this quickly turned to a more sombre mood; a combination of bewilderment, anxiety and a feeling the rug has been pulled from underneath them after all their hard work and determination.

"The lack of any clarity from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JFC) and the DfE on next steps for the last 48 hours has not helped the situation and is, in my view, utterly irresponsible.

"We are hopeful that full details will soon be released so that our students can begin to move on and have some certainty about their next steps – we are here to support them when these details emerge.

"Together, we can get through this unprecedented period and look ahead to the time we come back together as a community at Moreton Hall once again."