What now that the summer exams season is cancelled?

Meinir McLellan, the Data and Exams Officer at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin Carmarthen, explains how her work has been affected by the cancellation of exams.

Summertime. Getting closer and closer to the end of the academic year for those who live and breathe the academic timetable. This is when everything comes alive. The pinnacle of all our hard work as a centre coming together to support learners to achieve in their exams.

Normally, education centres are bustling with learners driving towards that final hurdle. Practitioners are helping in all ways possible to support learners with that final push. Everyone working in the same direction, to reach the common goal.

But this summer there are no exams, no exam room nerves, no exam papers to arrange and there are no invigilators to manage.

Professionals in education - administrative staff, practitioners and leaders - have all adapted and worked together for the good of the learner in ensuring that during these extraordinary days, they are supported with their well-being, e-learning and understand decisions that have been made about the qualifications they are studying.

The decision to cancel exams was the right one. Our focus has been on providing the information required by awarding bodies to support the award of calculated grades this summer. 

It doesn't really matter how experienced you are these days. These are unprecedented times for all. We are all learning on the job and will be more experienced when we get to the other side. It's a challenge, but the worst of times often bring out the best in people. Working with colleagues from other centres or from Qualifications Wales and WJEC, shows how the 'examination team' (as I like to call us ) can pull together, adapt, evolve and move forward with the future and well-being of pupils firmly at the forefront of our thoughts and practices.

The strange days of 2020 will stay with us forever. COVID-19 will no doubt impact on education, the delivery, our exams, and assessments as we know it for years to come. As we plan for summer 2021, we are mindful of teaching time lost, but remain optimistic about the innovative teaching and learning and use of technology that has opened other doors and opportunities for centres, practitioners, and learners. 

Planning for future exams is difficult. But if working with the examination team has taught me anything, we will adapt, we will innovate and evolve and we are enthusiastic as we prepare short term contingencies that will allow all learners to progress in their education journeys.

You can’t prepare for disruption of this magnitude. But, with one common goal, and the learner at the heart of what we do, we will continue on the shared pathway, working to academic milestones that join us as a nation, learning along the way.

Every day I see how dedicated staff support learners through various digital platforms, applying enthusiasm and creativity to daily teaching activity. I believe we are well placed as exams officers to continue to support learners and teachers so that they continue to thrive in these extraordinary times.

I do, however, look forward to the next time we can line our school halls with exam desks; the next time we’re preparing our seating plans; our next search for suitable rooms and staff to facilitate our exams; our next delivery of exam papers to manage; our next opportunity to start an exam…..

Until then let us continue to work together so that in years to come when you are asked 'what did you do during this experience', you can rightly respond ..'What did I do ?..I did my best'.


Published 26 May 2020