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Relief for learners as government back down over exam row

17 Aug 2020 3 minute read
Education Minister Kirsty Williams. Picture by the Welsh Government

Education Minister Kirsty Williams has confirmed that this summers’ exam results in Wales will now be based on teacher’s assessments.

The government has been under pressure to announce the change since A-level results were published last Thursday with over 40% of students having their marks down-graded by a standardisation algorithm.

Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Conservatives and a number of Labour backbenchers called for changes to be made before GCSE results are published on Thursday.

The Minister said: ”Working with Qualifications Wales and WJEC we have sought an approach which provides fairness and balances out differences in the standards applied to judgments in schools.

“Given decisions elsewhere, the balance of fairness now lies with awarding Centre Assessment grades to students, despite the strengths of the system in Wales.

“I am taking this decision now ahead of results being released this week, so that there is time for the necessary work to take place. For grades issued last week, I have decided that all awards in Wales will also be made on the basis of teacher assessment.

“For those young people, for whom our system produced higher grades than those predicted by teachers, the higher grades will stand.”

“These have been exceptional circumstances, and in due course I will be making a further statement on an independent review of events following the cancellation of this year’s exams.”

Welcoming the announcement Plaid Cymru Shadow Education Minister Sian Gwenllian MS said: “This is a very welcome if not a seriously overdue announcement.”

“There should be a full investigation into this debacle and the Welsh Government should apologise to students, teachers and schools for what they’ve put them through over the past few weeks.

“Never again should the professionalism and integrity of our teachers and the hard work of our students be called into question. For today, let us celebrate that justice has prevailed.”

Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said: “I’m pleased that Kirsty Williams has taken this decision to change the awarding of grades and prioritise the grades given by teachers. It gives pupils the confidence they need to go forward into the next stage of their life, knowing their grades reflect their hard work and perseverance.

“The method originally used to allocate results had merits, and while AS-Level results do give a good indication of a student’s capabilities, today’s announcement will better reflect the progress many have made over the previous year.”

The Northern Ireland Government announced earlier today that they were reverting to awarding teachers’ grades after Scotland did the same last week and the UK Government also confirmed they were awarding grades based on teachers’ marks in England this afternoon.


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