Committee highlights flawed process as exams postmortem continues

Lynne_Neagle MS. Photo by the National Assembly.

Lynne Neagle MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, has highlighted the flaws in the system used to predict grades for this year’s exams, following the committee meeting yesterday to examine the fallout from last Thursday’s A-level results.

With exams cancelled due to the pandemic, grades were based on teacher assessed marks but were then put through a standardisation algorithm.

This resulted in over 40% of students having their grades lowered, sparking a row that was only quelled after a U-turn from the government on Monday as they announced results would be based only on the teacher assessed marks.

After the virtual meeting with WJEC, Qualifications Wales and the Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams MS, Lynne Neagle said: “I thank the Minister for her apology to all those affected by the standardisation of grades this year. We have learned that the system devised to set those grades had faults and the impact of those shortcomings is clear.

“What is important now is to ensure those young people worst affected by this system are supported and able to move forward with the next steps in the career or learning paths they have chosen.

“Longer term, we need to know what the Welsh Government is doing to make sure this does not happen again. No one can predict if or when we may see another lockdown like this one, so we must learn from these experiences and avoid the confusing, confidence-sapping decisions we have seen over the last few weeks.

“We are reassured by the Minister’s commitment to an independent review of this issue. We will take an active role in monitoring its progress and findings, and we will keep a close eye on ensuring that lessons from this period are learned for future years. In the meantime, we will be continuing our work to represent and support children and young people in Wales through what has been one of the most challenging times of their lives.”

Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru claims that some students have been left in “limbo” despite the U-turn and will have missed out on securing a place at their university of choice.

Consequently, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price has called on the Welsh Government to fund university places in Wales to ensure no student misses out.

“Despite the Welsh Government’s much overdue U-turn there will still be students who haven’t been able to secure their desired place in their first-choice university because the course is now full,” Mr Price said.

“Had the Welsh Government only announced the U-turn sooner, students wouldn’t now find themselves stuck in this limbo.

“The Welsh Government’s mishandling led to this mess. They should now clean it up by funding university places in Wales to Welsh domiciled students to ensure that no one who lost out because of unfair downgrading will miss out on a space on their desired course.

 

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