Posted: Mon 17th Aug 2020

Updated: Mon 17th Aug

Flintshire Council leader welcomes u-turn as Welsh Government announces predicted results will be used for Welsh exam grades

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

A council leader has welcomed a U-turn which will see A-level and GCSE students awarded the grades predicted for them by their teachers.

The Welsh Government announced the decision this afternoon (Monday,  August 17) in the wake of mounting criticism after about 42 per cent of A-level marks forecast by educators were lowered when results were published last week.

Earlier in the day, the six North Wales council education cabinet members published a joint statement stating they had “no confidence” in the system used to calculate the results.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said she took the “difficult decision” to change her stance and award marks based on centre assessment grades to maintain confidence in the process.

Flintshire Council leader Ian Roberts, who is also the local authority’s cabinet member for education, described the reversal as a vote of confidence for teachers.

The Labour politician said he had heard a number of examples of students being left upset after being downgraded.

He said: “I’m pleased that the government have listened that we needed to sort this out for the benefit of the learners.

“I’m sure we’ve all heard stories about young people who have lost out.

“It was really important that we didn’t alienate a generation here by what’s gone on.

“I’m pleased that the Welsh Government has decided to trust in teachers’ judgement so that this generation won’t look back on their A-levels as the time when their educational opportunities were ruined.”

Qualifications Wales previously said final grades were lower than those estimated by teachers as they were judged to be too generous.

Education leads in North Wales hit back after claiming the process had harmed learners’ prospects and damaged the morale of teachers.

They highlighted a case where one student’s estimated A grade from their teacher was downgraded to a D, while another had a B marked down to a U.

Cllr Roberts, who is a retired primary school teacher, has now called for an urgent review of the qualifications body.

The changes announced today will apply to A-level, AS, GCSE, Skills Challenge Certificate and Welsh Baccalaureate grades in Wales.

The Education Minister said: “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.”

She added: “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.”

Ms Williams acknowledged youngsters had faced exceptional circumstances with exams cancelled and schools shut because of the coronavirus.

She has also promised to hold an interview into the events that have unfolded over the last few months.

A Qualifications Wales spokesman said: “We know that this is an extraordinarily difficult and upsetting time for learners, parents and their teachers, and there are many questions that we do not currently have answers to.

“We are working through the details and impact of this announcement and will provide updates as soon as we possibly can.”

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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