Decision on 2020 exam results is ‘the right thing to do’

The Leader and Cabinet of Bridgend County Borough Council have welcomed the decision by Welsh Government to award exam results for 2020 based on teacher-assessed grades instead of standardised outcomes.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams has confirmed that the teacher-assessed grades will be issued to all A-level, AS, GCSE, Skills Challenge Certificate and Welsh Baccalaureate students.

The minister said: “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.

“Maintaining standards is not new for 2020, it is a feature of awarding qualifications every year in Wales, and across the UK. However, it is clear that maintaining confidence in our qualifications whilst being fair to students requires this difficult decision.

“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. Other awarding bodies across the UK are involved in determining the approach to vocational qualifications. This continues to be the case, but it is important that I give assurance to GCSE, AS and A-level students at the earliest opportunity.”

The new decision means that the statistical standardisation process developed by the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) exam board and Qualifications Wales will not be used to deliver GCSE grades on Thursday 20 August.

Commenting on the system, 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 judgements 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.”

Reacting to the announcement, Councillor Dr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “This is excellent news which the Leader, Cabinet colleagues and I have been advocating since the cancellation of this year’s exams was first announced.

“The minister’s announcement is the right thing to do, and I hope that all four nations of the UK can learn from this.

“Algorithms have their place, but we must use them only for the purposes for which they are suitable, and work towards increasing the use of formative assessments instead of summative assessments.

“Above all, we must trust in our teachers, ensure that they are professionally supported in the principles of assessment, and look to re-set the balance towards teacher-assessed coursework.”

You can read the statement from the Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, in full at the Welsh Government website.