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What next after exams cancellation?

Created on 13/11/2020 @ 07:34

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

The decision to cancel GCSE, A/S, and A-level exams in Wales next summer has been welcomed in Powys.

But concerns have been raised whether sixth formers should sit A-Levels in 2022 because they wouldn’t have sat GCSEs last summer and will not now be sitting A/S level exams next year.

The decision by Welsh Government Education Minister, Kirsty Williams MS, to cancel exams in 2021 due to the pandemic, was brought up for discussion at a meeting of Powys County Council’s Learning and Skills Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday.

Cllr Jake Berriman asked: “What should we be most concerned about? What’s worrying you at the moment?”

Chief Education Officer, Lynette Lovell, said: “What schools and more importantly children and young people have been worried about is what’s going to happen next in terms of assessments.

“We had the announcement that in Wales there won’t be examinations and I’m really pleased.

“We’ve just come from a meeting with Secondary Schools and their concerns are around how we’ll work through next year, although we’ve now had a clear steer about working through that with years 10 to 13.”

She added that education consultant, Geraint Rees, who is now part of the council’s senior leadership team as the Strategic Lead for Education, had been asked by the Welsh Government to join a board that will oversee the assessment-based process for 2021.

Education challenge advisor, Anwen Orrells, added that online masterclasses would be made available to pupils throughout Powys on how to complete the course work.

She said that the regional educational consortia for Mid and South West Wales, ERW, had agreed to support these types of workshops.

Committee Chairman, Cllr Peter Roberts, believed this would be an extra workload for teachers.

He asked if having one teacher per subject lead these workshops would be a helpful approach? Ms Orrells agreed.

Guilsfield councillor, David Jones, asked what was happening to those pupils who were following the syllabus of an England-based examination board.

“Is it still the case they might be sitting exams?” he asked.

Ms Orrells replied: “That would be correct, but that would only impact private schools.

“All our schools will be sitting WJEC (Welsh Joint Education Committee) exams and follow the Welsh syllabus.”

She added that schools would be monitoring pupils in year 12 especially as “expecting them” to sit A-level exams in 2020 is something that needs to be “considered very carefully.”

The announcement on cancelling exams came on Tuesday, November 10, by Welsh Government Education Minister Kirsty Williams MS.

She outlined that:

  • in place of exams, the Welsh Government intended to work with schools and colleges to take forward teacher-managed assessments
  • this should include assessments that will be externally set and marked but delivered within a classroom environment under teacher supervision.


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