Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Minister, Suzy Davies MS, has welcomed the review into the 2021 exam season in Wales by Qualifications Wales and is calling on the Welsh Government Education Minister to ensure that there is confidence in the system for exams to go ahead next year.
However, a second independent review commissioned by the Welsh Government is calling for exams to be scrapped for next year, recommending that “in 2021, qualifications should be awarded on the basis of robust and moderated assessment undertaken by the learner’s educational setting and not through an exam series.”
In a letter to the Education Minister, Qualifications Wales states that:
We propose different combinations of four assessment types for GCSEs, AS and A levels:
- Unit exams externally set and marked by WJEC and sat under usual timetabled exam conditions
- Unit assessments similar in structure to a unit exam - externally set and marked by WJEC, but not timetabled. This would give centres more flexibility in when and where to deliver these assessments
- Sub-unit assessments externally designed small tests developed by WJEC to be delivered during normal timetable periods. These could be externally or internally marked – this could be determined by us through consultation.
- Non-exam assessments (NEA) as set out in the qualification specifications and already adapted by WJEC for the current circumstances.
Suzy Davies MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Minister, commented:
“It really isn’t helpful that these two reviews solve nothing, with both fundamentally disagreeing with each other. I hope that the Education Minister shows some leadership on this issue, unlike earlier in the year when she pushed decisions onto teachers and school leaders instead of leading from the front.
“Qualifications Wales are clear that no national moderation system can be tested and be ready in time to bring confidence to centre-assessed grades. As they and the WJEC would be responsible for creating and implementing such a system, if they say it can’t be done, then we need to listen. The last thing we need is another system which everyone thinks is fair but turns out to be anything but.
“However, while I’m pleased to see that exams still feature strongly in the Qualifications Wales findings, I’m sure school leaders, parents and pupils will want to know which of the various combinations, that Qualifications Wales suggest, will command the greatest public confidence. They don’t have time for any cul-de-sacs when it comes to planning the way ahead.
“I look forward to hearing the Minister's conclusions but reiterate my call to her that she needs to give decisive leadership on this issue. We can’t let another cohort of young people face the anxiety about their futures that students this year went through.”