Finding solutions to this major challenge

The pandemic has caused so many challenges for so many people over recent months - things that we never thought we’d have to experience in our lifetimes.

philip blaker By Philip Blaker, Chief Executive, Qualifications Wales

Cancelling exams is just one of those challenges. It’s a situation we never thought we would ever have to deal with. 

But in the face of this disruption we have been focused on the interests of learners and establishing a way of awarding the fairest grades possible in these circumstances. 

I know this is a difficult time for everyone who was due to sit exams this year. It also has a big impact on those preparing for exams in 2021. 

Creating a new system to ensure that grades are awarded as fairly as possible across Wales takes time. As I’ve said before, there are no quick fixes for the situation we found ourselves in when schools were closed and exams cancelled in March. That’s why we launched a consultation to find out what you thought of the aims that will underpin the awarding of grades this summer. 

The response to our consultation – we received over 4,000 responses, more than half from learners themselves proves we were right to ask what you think of our plans. 

We’ve now published our findings and our decisions as a result of the consultation, which you can read in detail here on our website.

We’ve made some changes to what we originally proposed and have now set out our requirements for the appeals process and the four aims that will underpin the statistical standardisation model to be used by WJEC. The aims are that: 

  • All learners for whom a qualification-level centre assessment grade and rank order are submitted will receive a grade; 
  • National outcomes will be broadly similar to those in previous years to reduce the risk of unfairness for learners over time and maintain public confidence.; 
  • As far as possible the process for awarding grades will not systematically disadvantage learners, including those with characteristics protected by equalities legislation, and; 
  • The standardisation model will use a range of evidence to calculate the likely grades that learners would have achieved, had they been able to complete their assessments. 

We’ve considered all the responses to make sure that learners receive grades that are robust and can be valued like those awarded in any other year. I’d like to thank everyone who took time to respond to our consultation, and I would encourage everyone to read our findings and decisions reports. 

Published 29 June 2020