Calls for GCSE results to be based on teachers’ grades

Photo by Oussama Zaidi on Unsplash

Plaid Cymru are calling for the Welsh Government to use teachers’ assessments to grade the results of this year’s GCSEs exams, which will be announced on Thursday.

This summer’s exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with learners awarded grades based on teachers’ estimates but were then put through a standardisation process.

The A-level results published last Thursday revealed that just over 42% of Welsh A-level students had their results downgraded from teachers’ recommendations.

Siân Gwenllian MS, Plaid Cymru’s shadow education minister, said: “I’m calling on the Education Minister and this Welsh Government to learn from the chaos caused over A-level results when it comes to this week’s GCSEs. That needs to be done sooner rather than later – waiting until Thursday is unacceptable and will cause more anxiety and uncertainty.

“Because of the increasing evidence of inconsistencies and anomalies, the Government should use the teachers’ assessments rather than a flawed algorithm. The First Minister is defending the indefensible and choosing to talk statistics rather than the life chances of the individuals affected.”

In an exchange of letters with Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price on Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford rejected calls for A-level results to be based on the marks submitted by teachers.

“If we were to do as you suggest over 40% of student’s in Wales would have been awarded A or A* grades,” he wrote.

“This would have devalued the award and undermined the hard work of so many students and teachers. You may be aware of the UCL research on the difficulties associated with teacher predicted A-level grades.”

On Saturday Qualifications Wales issued a statement confirming they are extending the grounds for appeal for this summer’s GCSE, AS and A levels, and the Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate qualifications.

Students can now appeal their results on the grounds there is evidence an internal assessment has been judged by the school or college to be at a higher grade than the calculated grade awarded.

Details of the specific criteria required for an appeal will be published in the coming days.

The statement also offered assurances that all learners who are named in an appeal, whether they have provided consent or not, will not be at risk of having their grades lowered because of the appeal. Grades will only go up or remain the same as part of the appeals process.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Education, Suzy Davies MS, welcomed the changes to the appeals process and that pupils’ achievements, supported by teachers, will be given more weight in the event they make an appeal.

“What we need now is urgent reassurance on time scales and a guarantee of two things: Firstly, all appeals affecting university or other higher education course places will be heard in time and that higher education institutions will keep open places until appeals are heard,” she said.

“Secondly: that this system will not collapse under the pressure of demand.”

Last week the Scottish Government scrapped the downgraded exam results and awarded learners the grades awarded by teachers. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has called for ministers in England to do same.

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