The Welsh government has announced that the controversial algorithm used to calculate A-Level results will be scrapped and grades will now be awarded on the basis of teacher predictions.
In a statement released this afternoon, Lib Dem MS and education minister Kirsty Williams said: “We have sought an approach which provides fairness and balances out differences in the standards applied to judgments in schools.”
Taking to social media to confirm the U-turn, she tweeted: “A-level, AS, GCSE, skills challenge certificate and Welsh baccalaureate grades in Wales will now be awarded on the basis of centre assessment grades.”
This latest development follows days of confusion after thousands of A-Level students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland received predicted results last week, replacing the usual end of year exams that were cancelled in the pandemic.
In her statement, the minister said that she is “taking this decision now ahead of results being released this week”, but that exams results published last week will also receive be awarded based on teacher assessments.
Williams also explained that “for those young people, for whom our system produced higher grades than those predicted by teachers, the higher grades will stand”.
A number of Welsh Labour MPs had called on both the First Minister and the Prime Minister to “right this wrong” in relation to exam results and accept teachers’ predictions for A-Level and GCSE results.
Ahead of the U-turn, Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi declared that she was “adamant we should accept teachers’ predictions” while Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said that it was the only way to ensure a fair system.
Bryant added: “Incidentally, I think that should be across the whole of the UK – Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.”
The UK government is expected to make an announcement about the exam results later this afternoon, following sustained pressure after nearly 40% of students in England saw their grades moderated down by the regulator.
Commenting on the Welsh government’s decision, Labour’s Kate Green said: “Boris Johnson must now follow the lead of the Welsh Government which has acted to ensure young people in Wales get the qualifications they deserve.”
The Shadow Education Secretary added: “The Prime Minister must get a grip on the situation in England now, and end the historic injustice that he is imposing on young people across the country.”
Below is the full text of the statement from the Welsh government.
Working with Qualifications Wales and the Welsh Joint Education Committee we have sought an approach which provides fairness and balances out differences in the standards applied to judgments in schools. Given decisions elsewhere, the balance of fairness now lies with awarding centre assessment grades to students, despite the strengths of the system in Wales.
I am taking this decision now ahead of results being released this week, so that been is time for the necessary work to take place. For grades issued last week, I have decided that all awards in Wales, will also be made on the basis of teacher assessment. For those young people, for whom our system produced higher grades than those predicted by teachers, the higher grades will stand.
Maintaining standards is not new for 2020, it is a feature of awarding qualifications every year in Wales, and across the UK. However, it is clear that maintaining confidence in our qualifications whilst being fair to students requires this difficult decision. These have been exceptional circumstances, and in due course I will be making a further statement on an independent review of events following the cancellation of this year’s exams.
Other awarding bodies across the UK are involved in determining the approach to vocational qualifications. This continues to be the case but it is important that I give assurance to GCSE, AS and A-Level student at the earliest opportunity.