Posted: Tue 11th Aug 2020

Updated: Tue 11th Aug

Flintshire Council leader hopes Welsh students will not see futures harmed by repeat of Scottish exam result downgrading

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The leader of Flintshire Council has expressed his hope that Wales will not see a repeat of the situation in Scotland where thousands of youngsters had their exam results downgraded.

Students across the country are set to receive their A-level and AS results on Thursday, August 13, with GCSEs to follow a week after.

Exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic so grades will be based on how teachers believe a student would have performed, as well as a formula applied by the exam board.

Regulatory body Qualifications Wales has already indicated many estimated results are likely to be lowered after describing them as “generous” and highlighting inconsistencies.

Concerns have been voiced that it will result in a repeat of what happened in Scotland, where many pupils were unhappy that they had been awarded lower grades than they had been predicted.

Ian Roberts, who heads up the ruling Labour administration in Flintshire, said learners did not deserve to have their prospects damaged because of the virus and has called for fairness from the Welsh organisation.

The former primary school teacher, who is also the local authority’s cabinet member for education, said: “My genuine hope is that Qualifications Wales manage to achieve the balance between student and parent expectations, school graded levels and to achieve what others couldn’t achieve.

“These are key examinations for students and places in university can depend on an A and not a B.

“The most important thing is how students deserve not to have life chances missed because of what’s happened this year and despite the difficulties of the COVID crisis,

“One senior officer of the WLGA put it well when they said: ‘If Einstein was sitting a physics A-level this year, his result would depend on what the previous year’s results were for the school.’
“I genuinely hope that for the sake of our students and parents and their future that Qualification Wales and the WJEC pull this out of the bag.”

Arrangements for collecting exam results in Flintshire and Wrexham will be very different this year because of Covid-19.

Councils in both areas said schools and higher education colleges would have their own arrangements in place for youngsters to collect results.

Some institutions have given staggered times for learners who want to pick them up in person.

Meanwhile, others have said they will either e-mail results out directly to students or post them on web portals to avoid the spread of the virus.

Ahead of A-level results day, a Welsh Government minister has said she is confident students in the country will get the results they deserve.

Speaking at a press conference held today (Tuesday, 11 August), housing and local government minister Julie James said: “I’m really happy to reassure every learner in Wales that the model here is very different.

“It takes into account work that’s been completed by the students. For example, in Wales we’ve never let go of AS-levels.

“If you took A-levels this year then you would have had your AS-level results last year. They contribute 40 per cent to A-level grades.

“The model for standardising those grades are developed by the GCSE and proofed by Qualifications Wales to ensure that learners are treated fairly and will be able to progress with confidence.

“We’re obviously very keen that our learners are given the accolades they need for the work they’ve done, but also that they get the result they deserve and that those grades are robust and will take them forward into their lives with confidence.”

A spokesman for Qualifications Wales said the approach to awarding this year’s grades has been “carefully thought through” to deliver fairness

However, they said there was a clear difference between estimated grades put forward by teachers, known as CAGs, and exam results achieved in previous years.

They said: “Teachers played an important part in the approach by providing each of their learners with estimated grades (CAGs) and a position within a rank order for each subject.

“This information was submitted to WJEC in June. Since then it has been standardised to ensure consistency in grades for learners across Wales.  

“On the whole CAGs were generous and there was also evidence of inconsistency between exam centres. 

“This is in no way a criticism of teachers as there was no opportunity amid the pandemic to train them.

“Wales is no different to many other nations where this year has required a shift from externally assessed exams to calculating grades.”

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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