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Calls for public inquiry into exam’s ‘fiasco’

22 Aug 2020 3 minute read
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Education, Sian Gwenllian MS has called for a public inquiry into the Welsh Government’s handling of this summer’s school and college exam grades.

The government has been under pressure from both main opposition parties since last week when almost half of Wales’ A Level students’ grades were initially downgraded because of the system used to calculate results.

After initially defending the process, the government backtracked and announced on Monday that teachers’ assessed grades would now be used rather than those produced by the standardisation algorithm that had sparked an outcry from students, teachers and parents.

Meanwhile, on the eve of GCSE results it was announced that BTEC results issued by Pearson exam board would be held back for regrading. Students are not expected to get their revised results until the end of next week.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams confirmed she would be making a further statement on an ‘independent review of events following the cancellation of this year’s exams’ in due course.

The Shadow Minister said: “I am calling for an urgent and full public inquiry into the handling of this year’s exam debacle.

“If the Welsh Government is serious about ‘building back public confidence’ the Education Minister should initiate a public inquiry looking into what went wrong – in order to pave the way for future change. The current Welsh Government and future governments must be able to learn lessons from the recent mishandling of qualifications grading and exam results.

“Some of the problems started to come to light during Tuesday’s Senedd Committee meeting. But we only touched the surface very lightly. I’m concerned that the Minister’s ‘review’ won’t achieve the level of public scrutiny that’s needed. This catalogue of blunders affected and is still affecting thousands of young people in Wales. The level of anxiety that was created must not be underestimated and only a public inquiry will suffice.”

Yesterday Suzy Davies MS, Welsh Conservative, Shadow Minister for Education, also expressed grave concerns about answers given by the minister to questions raised by the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee.

Mrs Davies said that she was worried by evidence which suggested that either the Minister was not kept fully informed about developments or that she had not challenged WJEC and Qualifications Wales on reassurances they may have given her about the grading process.

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