Plaid Cymru accuses Labour and Lib Dems of hypocrisy as A-level row heats up

Adam Price, left. Picture by Plaid Cymru. Mark Drakeford, left. Picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price MS has accused both Welsh Labour and the Welsh Liberal Democrats of “staggering hypocrisy” over the downgrading of A-level results received by students in Wales yesterday.

With exam’s cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, grades were based on teachers’ estimates but were then put through a standardisation process.

Just over 42% of Welsh A-level students have had their results downgraded from teacher estimates.

The UK Government has come under fire from both Labour and the Liberal Democrats as close to 40% of A-level pupils in England had their results downgraded.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is facing increasing pressure over his department’s handling of exam results, with the Liberal Democrats calling on him to resign and Labour demanding that the results be replaced by teacher assessments.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams is the only Liberal Democrat Member of the Senedd.

In a letter to the First Minister Mark Drakeford, Mr Price said: “If the criticism from your parties in England is to mean anything other than political game playing , you must now re-assess your approach as a Welsh Government to ensure that no pupil is disadvantaged in what has already been an anxious year.”

“The hypocrisy from UK Labour and Liberal Democrat parties in their vocal outcry of UK Government’s “botched grading system” and of “robbing” these students of their future while their Welsh Government counterparts commit the same gross error is staggering.

“Mistrust in the system couldn’t have been communicated louder by students, teachers and even Welsh Labour’s own back-benchers. Pupils who were awarded lesser grades than the teacher assessments in A-level and AS exams should be upgraded to the teacher assessment grades. If this approach is being advocated by the UK Labour leader in England, why is the Labour First Minister in Wales so stubbornly against?”

Responding to the Adam Price’s comments, a Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson said: “No student has been downgraded. Kirsty Williams introduced a no-detriment policy to ensure that every student is guaranteed at least the grade achieved in their AS level last year.
“This is only possible because we have kept AS levels in Wales, which is a better indication of a student’s abilities. Even Gavin Williamson has admitted that he would like the AS system that we have in Wales.”

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