Jonathon Dawes, Member of Welsh Youth Parliament for the Vale of Clwyd
Only last week, I and other young people were dedicating every waking hour in preparation for our summer examinations. Rightly so, as they are extremely important. However, in a very short time, things have changed very quickly for young people across Wales.
Last Wednesday, the Minister for Education gave a very emotional statement closing schools and cancelling summer exams due to the existential pandemic that is COVID-19. For the first time as a Welsh Youth Parliament Member, I thought I saw real leadership on education by the Welsh Government.
The minister lead from the front, cancelled exams and closed schools for the good of us as individuals and wider society. You could see from the minister’s statement that she was genuinely upset and knew it was the last resort to shut schools and cancel exams but in the long term it was for the greater good.
However, since then the decision lacked clarity and has left many students in my constituency, especially year 12s feeling anxious and worried.
A further statement from Qualifications Wales committed to allocating fair target grades to year 11 and 13 pupils. This was a welcome step for young people from the Minister, giving students much needed clarity on their summer exams.
Unfortunately so far the Welsh Government seem to have forgotten about year 12/AS students. In Wales unlike England we are lucky enough to be able to sit our AS exams at the end of our first year. We then proceed to sit our A2 exams at the end of our final year including any resists for A level pupils who failed AS or would like to try and achieve a better grade.
So far no provision has been made for these students. Leaving many very worried, anxious and generally upset. I have felt this first hand, being a year 12 student myself but having been inundated with messages, emails and phone calls from year 12 constituents on this.
We know that the Welsh Government is considering a variety of options on the table at this point but no matter the decision, clarity is needed now more than ever as year 12s have been completely left in the dark.
I have been contacted by year 12s, asking if they should or shouldn’t be revising, what this means for their grades, will they have to sit exams in the winter or next summer and honestly it’s upsetting as I can’t give them a definite answer as no decisions have been made.
This just scratches the surface in terms of questions asked and none of these questions are yet to be answered by either the Minister for education or Qualifications Wales.
That is why I am calling on the Welsh Government and Qualifications Wales to provide a detailed statement to year 12s across Wales studying their AS to give essential information on what we should expect next.
We need to be able to make the most productive use of our time until we eventually return to our schools and colleges.
No decision is going to please everyone, but a decision is needed now at this crucial time otherwise year 12s will feel forgotten about and opportunities will be missed.