Minister announces independent review into exams chaos

Education Minister Kirsty Williams. Photo by the Welsh Government

Education Minister Kirsty Williams has confirmed an independent review is to take place into events following the cancellation of this year’s exams in Wales due to the coronavirus pandemic.

GCSE, A-level and BTEC results were all due to be decided based on grades assessed by teachers which would then be standardised by an algorithm.

A-level results published earlier this month caused a political storm as it was revealed the algorithm delivered grades that were 42% lower than teacher assessments.

The Welsh Government eventually announced that A-level and GCSE students would be awarded the grades estimated for them by their teachers.

The U-turn came after it was announced that students in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland would also have their results based on teacher estimates.

 

‘Reassurance’

Kirsty Williams confirmed that Louise Casella, Director of The Open University in Wales, will chair the review and said: “It is essential that lessons are learned from this years’ experience so that the review can provide recommendations and considerations for approaches for 2021.

“These recommendations will be centred on the needs of our learners and their progression, and on the continued need to maintain standards and the integrity of the education system and qualifications here in Wales.”

The minister has requested an interim report of key findings by the end of October, with a final report and recommendations to follow by mid-December.

Last Monday Plaid Cymru called for an urgent public inquiry into the events leading up to the awarding of exam results in a letter to Kirsty Williams.

The party said that a public inquiry would give a voice to students and teachers and would indicate that the Welsh Government wishes to learn lessons from this summer’s problems.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Education Minister Sian Gwenllian MS said: “A full public inquiry will give added reassurance to all stakeholders in what is an extremely anxious time.”

ColegauCymru Chief Executive Iestyn Davies said, “We welcome the announcement that Louise Casella will lead the review. We pledge, as a sector, to support her work so as to reach a resolution that will avoid a repetition of what we have seen this summer.”

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