Qualifications Wales confirms the summer 2022 grading approach

Wednesday 06 Oct 2021

Qualifications Wales has today confirmed the grading approach and contingency plans for the summer 2022 exam series for WJEC GCSE, AS and A levels and Skills Challenge Certificate qualifications.  

In March 2021, Qualifications Wales announced that there would be exams in summer 2022, and that the assessment requirements for WJEC GCSE, AS and A levels, Skills Challenge Certificate qualifications would be adapted to reduce the impact of lost face-to-face teaching and learning time during the pandemic. 

In July 2021, WJEC consulted with learners, parents, schools, and colleges about the proposed changes and in September 2021, WJEC published information for learners and parents about the changes to GCSE, AS and A levels  qualifications Summer 2022 Adaptations (wjec.co.uk) and the Skills Challenge Certificate.

Grading approach  

With the return to exams, WJEC will award grades to learners in summer 2022. We have explored the views of stakeholders and we have also considered the approaches being implemented by qualification regulators in other parts of the UK.  

For summer 2022, we have decided to align with the approach taken in England to ensure that learners in Wales are not disadvantaged relative to learners in England particularly where qualifications are used to progress to higher education institutions. That is, to treat 2022 as a transition year to reflect that we are in a pandemic recovery period and learners’ education has been disrupted. In 2022 we will aim, therefore, for results to reflect broadly a midway point between 2021 and 2019. In 2023 we will aim to return to results that are in line with those in pre-pandemic years. 

As in summer 2021, it is a priority that grades learners achieve support them to progress to the next stage of their learning and/or employment journey. On reaching the decision to take this approach, we have considered the interests of the summer 2022 learners and those in the past and in the future. We will continue to work with other regulators across the UK to align our approach for summer 2022 so that the grading process is fair for learners. 

The decision on the approach to grading GCSEs, AS and A levels will have an impact on certain vocational qualifications used for similar purposes, including progressing to further study. We require awarding bodies to take account of the approach taken for GCSEs and A levels when setting standards in vocational qualifications so that vocational learners are not disadvantaged compared to learners taking GCSE and A level. 

Contingency approach for GCSEs, AS and A levels - summer 2022 

Whilst it is expected qualifications will be assessed in the usual way, by exams and/or non-examination assessments (NEA) with adaptations, there could be changes in the public health situation that result in the cancellation of the exam series.  

If exams are cancelled, schools and colleges will be asked to award centre determined grades to learners. The centre determined grade approach would be similar to that used in 2021, but with some improvements to take account of the learning from this year.  

Philip Blaker, Chief Executive of Qualifications Wales said, 

“Many learners studying for GCSEs, AS and A levels in summer 2022 will have faced unprecedented disruption to their education over the past 18 months and we want to make sure that their assessments next summer are as fair as possible. Next year we will see a return to normal assessments which provide a fair and consistent approach for learners.   

“We have considered the fairest way to award grades, taking views from stakeholders across Wales and working with other qualifications regulators across the UK. Our approach will align with that taken in England. This means that results in 2022 will reflect broadly a midway point between 2021 and 2019 and provides a  level playing field for Welsh learners, particularly those applying for admission to universities across the UK.  

“These are uncertain times and if circumstances change, and the exam series is cancelled we are putting contingency plans in place that will allow schools and colleges to award grades in an approach based upon that used in summer 2021. We will work with WJEC to inform schools and colleges of these plans so everyone is clear what needs to be done.  

“We know that learners may be anxious and have concerns about the return to exams, which is why we are planning a range of communications to support them.’’