Posted: Thu 13th Aug 2020

A-level results out today in Flintshire with a ‘guarantee’ final grades ‘cannot be lower than their AS grade’

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Aug 13th, 2020

Students in Flintshire will be getting A-level grades this morning. 

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.

Students in Wales have now been “assured” that their A Level grades will reflect their work and externally assessed exams and no result will be lower than their earlier AS results, Education Minister Kirsty Williams has said on Wednesday.

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.

In England, A-level and GCSE students are being promised their final results will be no lower than their mock exams.

Kirsty Williams also said that “ all appeals will be free for Welsh students, to ensure there is no financial barrier to ensure learners feel their exam grades are fair.”

Plaid Cymru called the move an “eleventh hour U-turn” Shadow Education Minister Sian Gwenllian MS said,

 This eleventh hour U-turn by the minister is an admission that the system was flawed from the off.

 The Welsh Government will be marked down severely for leaving teachers and pupils in limbo – and their hard work, initially, unrewarded.

 It is welcome that the minister has listened to Plaid Cymru calls for a free and independent appeals process.

 This will give some comfort to those pupils who have been let down in what was already a time of unprecedented anxiety.

Following the Education Minister’s announcement yesterday Qualifications Wales said:

This Direction requires us to pay due regard to Welsh Government’s new policy that A level learners should not receive a grade outcome in a subject in Summer 2020 that is lower than their corresponding AS level grade.

The rule was introduced after the initial release of results by WJEC to schools and colleges.

Learners receiving their A level grades today should look at the grade awarded to see if it is the same, higher or lower than their AS level grade in that subject.

If the grade is the same or higher, then no action is required.If, however, the grade is lower it will be replaced with the same grade as that received for the AS level – revised grades will be issued by WJEC as soon as possible.

If necessary, learners wishing to progress to Higher Education should contact their prospective university to advise them of the change.

Universities will already be aware of the AS grades awarded as they will have been reported on the UCAS application form.

Some learners may have taken AS units, but not made a request to ‘cash in’ for the AS level award. In these circumstances, WJEC will reissue the A level grade as though the AS had been cashed in.

Grounds for appeal
The Minister’s Direction also asks us to consider whether the grounds for appeal can be broadened for all A level, AS level and GCSE qualifications.

We have already published guidance outlining the grounds for appeal and will now reconsider the grounds already cited. We expect to provide more information on appeals early next week.

Kirsty Williams said: 

I am confident that the system overseen by Qualifications Wales (QW) and WJEC, in response to the current emergency, is fair for students and robust in what it measures and signals to employers and universities.

However, governments in other parts of the United Kingdom have introduced changes to their systems and we must make sure that these alterations do not disadvantage Welsh students.

Students in Wales, and prospective employers and universities across the UK, can be assured that their A Level grades reflect their work and externally assessed exams.

Almost half the final grade comes from AS Level exams – this is not the situation elsewhere.

Therefore in building on that completed work, I am giving a guarantee that a learner’s final A Level grade cannot be lower than their AS grade. If a student receives a final grade tomorrow that is below that of their previous AS grade, then a revised grade will be issued automatically by WJEC. 

This will mean – and I have received assurances from UCAS and universities – that students can speak with confidence to their prospective universities regarding their A Level grades.

OFQUAL are yet to publish the details of the new appeals process following the English Government’s announcement.  I have asked Qualifications Wales, working with the WJEC, to work closely with the qualifications bodies of the other UK nations as they develop their plans. 

I will be asking Qualifications Wales to move forward quickly on relevant adjustments to a Welsh appeals process as soon as these plans are clearer, in order to ensure Welsh students are not disadvantaged. 

I am confirming today that all appeals will be free for Welsh students, to ensure there is no financial barrier to ensure learners feel their exam grades are fair. 

CAC education union has given a cautious welcome to the Minister for Education’s announcement that no candidate will receive a lower grade at A Level than they received at AS Level, and that the grounds for appeal will be reviewed. Dilwyn Roberts-Young, UCAC General Secretary said

Our members will welcome any steps to ensure that their students receive fair grades and that they will not compare unfavourably with their peers elsewhere in the UK.

However, the fact that these changes are needed is a matter of considerable concern. These eleventh-hour changes are bound to cause stress and confusion.

We are particularly alarmed that the processes put in place originally were not robust when put under scrutiny, especially with respect to the models used to project results from AS to A Level.

Clearly, performance varies greatly from AS to A2. However, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the most able can maintain their grades between AS and A2, and can in fact perform better.

We hope that this pledge will significantly reduce discrepancies in such cases.

Further, we hope that revised appeal guidance will allow remedies for the any discrepancies on an individual, subject and school level.

We urge Qualifications Wales and WJEC to publish the revised guidance as soon as possible to ensure clarity for all.

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

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 with social distancing measures in place. 

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.

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