Wales to launch review into results fiasco

The exam results fiasco affected students across the UK.
Source: City of Stoke on Trent Sixth Form College, via. Flickr.
An independent review into this summer’s A-level and GCSE results fiasco in Wales will take place, to see what lessons can be learned.

By Morgan Perry | Political Editor

The Welsh education minister, Kirsty Williams has announced that an independent review into this summer’s A-level and GCSE results fiasco will take place, to see what lessons can be learned. 

The independent review will be led by Louise Casella, the head of the Open University in Wales, with findings expected later this year. 

Ms Williams, the Member of the Senedd for Brecon and Radnorshire, said that it was “essential that lessons are learned” following this year’s exam results fiasco. 

The review “will consider key issues that have emerged from the arrangements which were put in place for this summer’s exams”.

There are concerns that, if the pandemic continues to affect the country and students’ education, that exams may need to take a similar format next summer. 

As a result, there are currently discussions underway across the country as to whether to delay next summer’s exam season

It is expected that the review into exam results in Wales will be completed by mid-December, with initial findings available sometime in October.

An unfair advantage?

This summer’s exam season was particularly unusual, with students unable to take exams in person due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In return, teachers were asked to submit predicted grades for students. These were analysed in relation to the performance of previous years’ students and moderated using an undisclosed algorithm.

As many as 42% of grades were downgraded by the qualifications authority, Qualifications Wales, leading to protests by students, parents and teachers.

At the time, 22,000 people signed a petition calling for a U-turn. 

Kirsty Williams announced the exam results review in Wales.
Kirsty Williams (Source: Liberal Democrats, via. Flickr).

Ms Williams initially announced that, in order to ensure fairness, students could be awarded grades no lower than their AS-level results, which are still taken in the first year of further education in Wales. 

This decision was later reversed, and the Welsh Government decided to use teacher predicted grades, in line with the governments in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In doing so, the education minister said she was concerned that, without the move, Welsh students would face unfair competition from students elsewhere in the country.

U-turn after U-turn

The grades fiasco was not unique to Wales, and students across the UK were affected.

It first became apparent when the Scottish Government released its results, with as many as 125,000 grades downgraded from teacher predictions. A U-turn swiftly followed, and the same later happened in England and Northern Ireland, too. 

Despite the huge number of students affected, Wales is the first home nation to announce a review into the fiasco.

Whilst many students are likely to be relieved to have been given their predicted grades, an independent review will be essential to avoid another educational mishap. 

Follow @gairrhyddpol for all of the latest updates from the world of politics.

Politics Morgan Perry

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