Coronavirus – Covid-19

Schools are closed and the summer exams are cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We know there are many questions you all have about what happens next, including how learners will be graded this year. We will include the most up-to-date information in this section. We will also include relevant statements by Welsh Government, WJEC and other partners in the education sector.     

Statement on summer 2020 approach to AS levels and Year 10 learners in Wales - 27 March 2020

Last week the decision was taken to close schools and cancel all of this summer’s exams. We explained how GCSEs and A level grades will be awarded. Today we can outline the way forward for learners who were due to sit their AS levels and Year 10 learners who would have taken unit assessments in Wales this summer. Next week we will update on other qualifications. 

AS levels 

In Wales, AS levels are not only stand-alone qualifications, but also contribute to A level qualifications - AS units are usually taken in Year 12 and A2 units in Year 13. Because of the contribution that AS outcomes make towards A level results, it has been important for us, Welsh Government and WJEC to take time to fully consider the implications for A level qualifications in summer 2021. 

Following a detailed consideration of the options available and the advice that we provided, the Minister has today decided that learners who were due to sit their AS exams this year will not be required to take those exams at a later date. Instead they will be treated in a similar way to those taking GCSEs and A levels. 

This year all AS learners will receive an AS grade and there will be no AS exams until summer 2021. The grade awarded will be based on a range of evidence, including teacher assessed grades, and will not contribute to A level results in 2021. 

In summer 2021, AS learners will have two options for their A level award. They can either choose to only sit the A2 units, with the A level grade based on their performance in those units, or they can choose to sit AS and A2 units. If they choose to sit the AS units alongside the A2 units they will be awarded the best grade from either route. 

Year 10 learners 

Year 10 learners who were due to sit exams that would have led to a whole GCSE qualification this summer will be issued a grade following the same process as Year 11 learners. Teacher assessed grades and other evidence will be used to calculate a grade. 

Year 10 learners who were due to sit units that will lead to GCSE results next summer, will not receive a unit result. For those learners, there will be two options. They can choose to sit only the units they plan to take in summer 2021, with their overall GCSE grade calculated on the basis of that performance only. 

Alternatively, they can choose to sit the Year 10 units in summer 2021, along with Year 11 units. Whichever option a learner chooses, they will be awarded the best grade from either route. 

Further guidance 

For GCSEs, AS, A levels and the Skills Challenge Certificate teacher assessed grades will be collected as part of the evidence for determining final qualification grades. Guidance on these teacher assessed grades will be issued to schools and colleges next week. 

Further guidance on non-exam assessments, which would have been at various stages in their completion at the time when schools were closed, has already been issued by WJEC. 

Qualifications other than GCSEs, AS and A levels and the Skills Challenge Certificate 

We are working hard to confirm the position regarding other types of qualification taken by learners in Wales. For qualifications taken only by learners in Wales we are working closely with awarding bodies and stakeholders to make the right decisions for our learners and will provide an update next week. 

For qualifications which are taken by learners across the UK, we are working with fellow UK regulators, awarding bodies and governments to ensure consistency and will share more details as soon as we can. 

All of the decisions made are set within a context of unprecedented times for all of us. We know that you are looking for answers to many questions and we are working hard to develop the best solutions possible. Thank you for your patience – we will keep publishing information as it becomes available, so please keep checking our website.

Issuing grades for qualifications summer 2020 - 20 March 2020

Following the Welsh Government decision to cancel exams for summer 2020, we are working with WJEC to establish the fairest way to issue grades for GCSE, A level and Skills Challenge Certificate qualifications.

We understand this is a very difficult time for learners, education professionals, parents and anyone else affected by serious and rapid public health developments and a situation which is beyond their control. 

People have many questions about how this will work in practice. Although we will not have all the answers until we have carefully worked through the detail and analysis, we can give an indication of our approach.  

Grades for GCSE and A level qualifications in 2020 will be calculated using a range of evidence. They will be based on a combination of factors which may include marks for work completed to date, for example AS results for A level grades, and standardised teacher assessed grades. 

Teacher assessed grades will be based on what teachers would expect a learner to achieve at the end of the course. They need to represent a fair, reasonable and carefully considered judgement of the most likely grade that might be achieved in normal circumstances. This is a professional judgement based on the combined assessment information held for that learner and will be a holistic judgement rather than focusing on a single source of evidence like mock examinations. These are not target grades or aspirational grades and are not related to performance measures, which have been suspended for this year by Welsh Government. 

Given the clear importance of GCSE, A level and Skills Challenge Certificate results for progress in education, work and life, we are prioritising these qualifications. We are not planning to issue grades for AS Levels or for unit assessments taken by Year 10 learnersin the same way. For those learners, we are looking at a variety of options, including the opportunity to sit exams in subsequent exam series. We will share more detail on those plans as soon as we can. 

We are still considering the fairest way to issue grades for learners who are studying qualifications other than GCSEs and A Levels. Most vocational qualifications are offered across the UK, so we are working with fellow regulators, exam boards and governmentsacross the UK to ensure consistency. We will share more detail on those plans as soon as we can.  

An important part of our efforts to coordinate activities will be to agree the dates on which results will be released. Given the nature of the grades that are being issued this year, there will be no review of marking in the normal way. 

We are working hard to provide greater clarity, as quickly as possible, and will continue to give regular updates.

Chief Executive’s letter to centres regarding cancellation of exams - 19 March 2020

You will be aware of the impact of COVID-19 on education in Wales and the decisions which have had to be made in the context of serious and rapid public health developments.

Welsh Government has had to take the decision to cancel exams for summer 2020 given that there can be no guarantee for when exam centres will be able to re-open and conduct exams safely and securely. The situation is the same in England and we expect similar decisions across the UK. 

We agree that cancelling exams for summer 2020 is the right decision. We are working with Welsh Government, WJEC and fellow UK regulators to ensure that learners due to sit their GCSEs and A levels will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work. We are also looking at other qualifications and will update on these when we can. 

This is an unprecedented sitation at a time of serious and rapid public health developments. It is also an especially anxious time, particularly for anyone preparing for high stakes exams. We appreciate that people have a large number of questions and we aim to answer these as soon as we can, to give clarity for learners, parents, education professionals and anyone else affected at this uncertain time. 

We are pooling expertise and experience to protect learners in the exams system. In this extreme circumstance with widespread global disruption, there is no ideal scenario for exams which, by nature, run as carefully controlled events. 

Our priority is ensuring fairness for learners while following public health advice. 

In terms of our work, we have also scaled back face to face engagement in line with public health advice but will continue to talk to stakeholders using all available technology. 

If you are responsible for an exam centre, we ask you to ensure that lines of communication remain open between you and the awarding bodies that you work with so that information – and any requests for information – can be shared quickly. We will continue to communicate with you using the email addresses that we have for key contacts at exam centres. Our External Relations team will also reach out to all exam centres over the coming days to ensure that we can communicate effectively. 

The situation is clearly changing rapidly, and we will continue to be guided by advice from the relevant authorities. We will be posting updates on our website. 

I aim to update you with further details as soon as possible and appreciate your patience. Meanwhile, I hope you are managing at this deeply unsettling time.

Statement on Summer Examinations 2020 by The Welsh Government - 18 March 2020

We are in an unprecedented period, one that is changing hour-by-hour, and governments around the world are having to make quick decisions.

We recognise the worry and anxiety that the uncertainty around the summer exam series was causing.

Today I met with Qualifications Wales and WJEC to consider options that are in the best interests of our learners. We recognise that there are no easy choices but we have agreed that the best way forward is not to proceed with summer exam series.

Learners due to sit their GCSEs and A levels this summer will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work, drawing on the range of information that is available.

We will be working with the sector to announce further details shortly but wanted to give this early certainty. We also won’t be using the results to publish performance measure outcomes in 2020.

Statement from Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, on school closures in Wales - 18 March 2020

We are in an unprecedented period, one that is changing hour-by-hour, and governments around the world are having to make quick decisions.

Firstly, I would like to extend my gratitude to all those working in our education and childcare settings for the critical work you have been undertaking, under incredible pressure to support our children and young people. You have been at the front-line in supporting wider efforts to prepare for the challenges we are all now facing and I am incredibly grateful and proud. 

Today, I can announce we are bringing forward the Easter break for schools in Wales. Schools across Wales will close for statutory provision of education at the latest on 20 March 2020.

I have been clear up to now that the continuity of education and the wellbeing of our learners has been at the heart of my decision making. This will always be the case.

From next week, schools will have a new purpose. They will help support those most in need, including people involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak. I am working with my colleagues in the Cabinet, with government officials and our partners in local government to develop and finalise these plans.

The key areas we are looking at are supporting and safeguarding the vulnerable and ensuring continuity of learning.  We are looking in detail at how we can support and safeguard all those who benefit from free school meals and children with additional learning needs. I will make sure you are kept up-to-date.

While this will apply to schools, childcare settings are expected to remain open until we have definitive advice from the Chief Medical Officer and from Public Health Wales that any closures are required. Parents can, and should, speak with their usual childcare providers if they need care over the Easter holidays

I have discussed my intentions with the Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, Andrew Morgan, who reflects the views of local authorities. Some school staff will likely have an important role to play in this. We are working closely with our key stakeholders to look at what this will look like for both education and childcare settings, including Flying Start. This position will of course evolve over the coming days and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

One of the critical decisions that we will seek to clarify with urgency is that of the forthcoming examinations. I am also working with Qualifications Wales and the WJEC about this year’s exam series. In line with all education ministers across the UK, I will be making a further announcement shortly.

From the outset, the decisions being taken have been focused on public health advice, and it is right that these science-based recommendations are front and centre of the decisions being made.

The announcement I am making today will help ensure an orderly closure for schools so that they have the time to prepare. However, I am conscious that the SAGE Committee and COBR meet this afternoon, and I will of course be listening closely to see if advice changes and any further urgent decisions about school closures are needed.

Today’s decision will help ensure an orderly closure, so schools have time to prepare ahead of the early break.

My main message for everyone is to stay safe and stay well. We will work together and we will face this outbreak together.

I will of course continue to keep you updated.

Please follow the latest public health advice. The latest guidance is always available on our website at gov.wales/coronavirus

Qualifications Wales statement on the decision to cancel summer 2020 exams - 18 March 2020

We welcome this decisive action from Welsh Government, which gives clarity for learners, parents, teachers and anyone else affected at this uncertain time. 

We agree that cancelling exams for summer 2020 is the right decision. 

We are working with Welsh Government, WJEC and fellow UK regulators to ensure that learners due to sit their GCSEs and A levels will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work. 

We appreciate people will want to know more and will share further details as soon as we possibly can. 

This is an unprecedented situation at a time of serious and rapid public health developments. It is also an especially anxious time, particularly for anyone preparing for high stakes exams.  

We are pooling expertise and experience to protect learners in the exams system. In this extreme circumstance with widespread global disruption, there is no ideal scenario for exams which, by nature, run as carefully controlled events. 

Our priority is ensuring fairness for learners while following public health advice.

You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates on the situation in Wales.

Read our latest blog here: 

 Multiple answers to complex questions by Philip Blaker, Chief Executive, Qualifications Wales