A High Wycombe school head teacher fears exams may be cancelled for the third year in a row amid an ongoing debate about vaccinating children.

Sharon Cromie, the head teacher at Wycombe High School, said the vaccination programme will give schools a "very good chance" of being able to stay open fully - fearing if they do not, examinations could be cancelled again.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has decided against backing the move to vaccinate healthy 12 to 15-year-olds against coronavirus, saying Covid-19 presents a low risk to teenagers.

But Professor Chris Whitty and the three other chief medical officers in the UK are reviewing the wider benefits of vaccinating the age group, such as minimising school absences, and are expected to present their findings within days.

The government is awaiting their advice before making a final decision but ministers have indicated they are keen to authorise a wider rollout.

Adding her voice to the debate, Mrs Cromie raised concerns that exams could be cancelled for the third year in a row if teenagers are not vaccinated.

She said: "Certainly, in a school context it's not just the personal safety of the 12 to 15-year-olds, it is enabling them to stay in school, enabling schools to stay open and not passing this virus on to loved ones.

“So, all in all I think the vaccination programme gives us all a very good chance of being able to return to open and more free, not just society, but keeping schools open.

"Because, if schools do not stay open, nationally, examinations next summer will be under question."

Examinations were cancelled in 2020 and 2021. Hundreds of thousands of students were this year given grades determined by teachers, rather than exams, with pupils only assessed on what they have been taught during the pandemic.

Last summer, the fiasco around grading led to thousands of A-level students having their results downgraded from school estimates by a controversial algorithm before Ofqual announced a U-turn.

This year, no algorithm was used to moderate grades.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said if the UK’s chief medical officers recommend vaccination of healthy 12 to 15-year-olds then it “absolutely” is the right thing to do, but he said he does not want to “pre-determine” that.

Speaking on Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, Mr Zahawi said: “We have not made any decisions, so we haven’t decided not to listen to the experts.

“On the contrary, all four ministers, the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, and his fellow ministers in the devolved administrations have agreed to ask the chief medical officers to convene expert groups, including the JCVI being in that, to be able to recommend which way we should go on healthy 12 to 15-year-olds.”

He said parents of healthy 12 to 15-year-olds will be asked for consent if coronavirus jabs are approved for their children.

“I can give that assurance, absolutely,” he said.

But on Times Radio he said 12 to 15-year-olds could override their parents’ wishes “if they’re deemed to be competent to make that decision, with all the information available”.