Students celebrate as GCSE grades rise

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash.

The proportion of students in Wales that earned GCSE grades between A* and C has jumped by close to 12% according to the exam results published today.

All results this year are now based on teachers’ predicted grades as examinations this summer had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A political row erupted last Thursday following the publication of A-level result’s which revealed an algorithm used to standardise results had downgraded 42% of students predicted marks but on Monday the government confirmed it was scrapping the use of the moderating process.

Qualifications Wales estimates that 74.5% of GCSE grades were awarded at A*-C this year, compared to 62.8% in 2019.

Over 25% of pupils were awarded A* and A grades – up from 18.4% last year.

Revised A-level results have also shown a significant improvement. Over 41% of grades were A* and A, compared to 29.9% when results were released last week. Last summer 27.0% earned the top two grades.

Elsewhere, there is now uncertainty for thousands of students awaiting their BTEC results after exam board Pearson said it was not releasing them and had taken the decision to regrade them instead.

Pearson, which offers BTECs to 250,00 students in the UK, including around 100,000 six form students who take them as a vocational equivalent to A-levels, announced on Wednesday that it would now use internal assessments and marks to set the final results for each course.

Pearson’s level 2 BTEC results, equivalent to GCSEs, were due to be published today but the results have been scrapped and will also be replaced by centre-assessed internal grades.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Education Minister Sian Gwenllian MS said the decision “will have serious repercussions for thousands of students across Wales, with many still not knowing what the future holds for them.”

“Pearson needs to announce WHEN the grades will be available. Some Level-3 BTEC students may now be able to access university courses after all but will miss out because places are already being given to A-level students who already know they have improved grades and are in a much better position to move forward,” she added.

“Questions need to be asked about why it took so long for Pearson to realise the implications of A-level and GCSE grade changes for its BTEC qualifications and what conversations if any were happening between Welsh Government, Qualifications Wales and Pearson over the last few days.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Education, Suzy Davies MS said: “BTEC students need to know now that the same focus and energy will be given to securing them fair and certain results as we saw applied to A-levels, GCES and, in our case, AS levels last week.

“Seeing how events unfolded last week, I’d have thought Pearson, the pan-UK awarding body, would have started getting its ‘Plan B’ together a bit sooner.

“The main thing now is that students hear quickly and that the institutions who are expecting to welcome them in a few weeks show some patience and flexibility.”

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