Posted: Sun 30th Jan 2022

Children’s Commissioner for Wales: “Major effort” needed to support young people ahead of exams this year

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Jan 30th, 2022

Exams in Wales are set to go ahead as normal this year “unless the public health situation makes it impossible to physically run them” Education Minister Jeremy Miles has confirmed.

A “major effort” is now needed to make sure that young people have all the information, advice and support they need ahead of exams The Children’s Commissioner for Wales has said.

It will be the first time that formal end of year examinations for students have taken place since before the pandemic.

For the last two years GCSE and AS/A Level grades have been decided via teacher-managed assessments.

This included assessments that were externally set and marked but delivered within a classroom environment under teacher supervision.

Mr Miles said schools exams will be shorter and will cover less material “to reflect the reduced teaching time many students have experienced.”

The minister added: “All countries across the UK are continuing with exams and to do otherwise in Wales would risk putting our learners at a disadvantage against learners in other parts of the UK.

“We are clear that exams and assessments remain the fairest way of assessing learners, even in these difficult circumstances.

“We know that alternative options such as centre determining grades in fact means less opportunity for teaching and learning in the classroom and can introduce their own inequities as well.

“Adaptations to exam content have been put in place to account for the disruption faced over the last two years so that assessments are as fair as possible.”

The Children’s Commissioner Professor Sally Holland said: “There now needs to be a major effort to make sure that young people have all the information, advice and support they need over the next few months.”

“Schools and colleges have worked relentlessly to try to provide a full educational experience for exam candidates, but this is a huge challenge, despite the adjustments that have been made to exams this year.”

Prof Holland said: “I warmly welcome the support package that’s been funded by Government.”

“But this support will be of most benefit if young people, and the adults supporting them, have immediate information about the full range of available options for their next steps.”

“Young people need to know that flexible approaches are an option for those who do not feel ready to take a full set of exams this summer.”

“Conversations about the best options for individuals need to happen now.” She added.

The Children’s Commissioner said: “Advice should reassure young people that no matter how well they do this summer they will be supported with opportunities to progress into the next stage of their education, employment and training.”

“There are lots of courses that young people can take without achieving their core GCSEs, and colleges and Careers Wales can help young people find their best options for next year.”

“Young people regularly approach me with anxieties about their qualifications and we must all, as a nation, ensure this cohort of young people feel confident that we are ready to support them through the next few months.” Prof Holland added.

The Education Minister aid: “I absolutely recognise that learners across Wales will be anxious about sitting exams this summer. We’ve had a series of exams in November and we’ve got a series of exams coming to an end today in fact.”

“I know that learners have been anxious around sitting exams perhaps for the first time, but what I would say to to learners and to schools and to parents, is that these aren’t going to be exams such as they were in the summer of 2019.”

Mr Miles said: “Qualifications Wales has announced that the grading of those examinations will reflect the disruption that’s happened.

“What I want to see is that anyone sitting for example GCSEs this summer is able to progress to the next stage of their education journey or whatever they choose.

“For those doing A Levels this summer I want them to have a level playing field with those sitting exams in other parts of the UK, I don’t want them to be disadvantaged.

“I think it would also be challenging to say that an entire cohort of students had gone through our school system without the opportunity of sitting an external examination.” He added.

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