Posted: Mon 17th Aug 2020

Regional education leaders have “no confidence” in standardisation of results and fear GCSE’s will mirror A-Level chaos

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Aug 17th, 2020

North Wales education leaders have said they have ‘no confidence’ in the standardisation process which saw 42 per cent of A-level results downgraded.

Learners across the region received their grades last Thursday after their education was disrupted as schools were shut and exams cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a late announcement just 24 hours before exam results were published, the Welsh Government’s education minister revealed no students would be marked lower than their AS-level results.

It followed concerns being raised after Qualifications Wales said final grades were likely to be lower than those estimated by teachers, which the exams watchdog said were “too generous”.

Over the weekend the Welsh Government said students in Wales will be able to appeal A-level grades if there is evidence they were lower than those predicted by teachers.

Education portfolio holders at all six North Wales councils have said the process hasn’t been fair and robust especially to vulnerable learners.

In a statement backed by chief officers, the regional school improvement body GwE and secondary headteachers, said they had “no confidence in the standardisation process adopted by WJEC [exam board] and agreed by Qualifications Wales”.

They have also expressed “deep and significant concern that GCSE results this Thursday will mirror the same process” as the A- level results.

The statement says:

Whilst the overall national position gives a positive picture of results, schools across North Wales have seen significant inconsistency and inequality in outcomes causing considerable anxiety to individual learners, their parents / carers and school staff.

It seems that the over-emphasis on historical data has seen the same schools and learners being penalised as they were in 2018 when schools in the North supported the Minister’s advice to not enter pupils early at GCSE, which subsequently had a negative impact on their outcomes in some key subjects.

It is quite clear that the A Level brand has been protected at the expense of individual learners who have missed out on forecasted grades when national distribution has reached school level.

It is becoming more evident that there is significant discrepancy between grades awarded by WJEC and Centre Assessment Grades. Some schools testify

that nearly 70% of their grades have been downgraded without any contact from the examining body or regulator. This disparity is not only within the same subjects, but also when comparing grades awarded across subjects.

There does not seem to be a consistent pattern within or between schools.

This has resulted in individual pupils being awarded grades by WJEC where schools can’t explain the rationale behind the awarding.

We are calling on the Education Minister to undertake an urgent review and redress the situation to ensure that individual learners are not failed and that the right pupils receive the right grades.

Too many pupils in North Wales are at a significant risk of being disadvantaged and missing out on opportunities to the future employment pathways of their choice when compared to their peers in other countries in the UK, especially Scotland.

Schools report that they have no confidence in the present appeal process.

While a promise of an urgent review has been made, this might come too late to make a difference to individual learners.

They also report that they are concerned about the emotional wellbeing of their learners who have been affected and are looking enviously at their peers in Scotland who have found a very rapid solution without increasing anxiety on the young people in an already unprecedented time.

Schools also report that they are very concerned of the impact next year of the AS results on the current Year 12, and particularly if there is another COVID spike or local lockdown.

Finally, we want to express our very deep and significant concern that GCSE results this Thursday will mirror the same process which will further compound what is already an extremely stressful situation for our young people and teaching profession.

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