QW recommends way forward for awarding qualifications in summer 2021

Thursday 29 Oct 2020

Qualifications Wales is recommending that external assessments be retained for GCSEs, AS and A levels next summer, but that there should be no timetabled exams except for A levels.

The advice is contained in a letter to Education Minister Kirsty Williams.

The proposals give schools and colleges greater flexibility in when to deliver assessments and provide more certainty for 2021 without the need for additional contingency arrangements.

For GCSEs and AS, Qualifications Wales is recommending that there should be no timetabled exams next summer. Grades will instead be awarded based on coursework and a set of common assessments taken during the year.

It is also recommended that schools and colleges are given windows of opportunity for when assessments take place within which there will be some flexibility.

For A levels, in addition to coursework and set tasks, learners would need to sit one exam per subject – but with a backup opportunity to take the exam if the pupil is ill or is self-isolating.

Qualifications Wales has identified this as the best way forward for the following reasons.

  • It ensures all learners are treated fairly;
  • Gives certainty about what will happen next year (and removes the need for alternative contingencies);
  • Is manageable and minimises disruption to teaching and learning;
  • Gives schools and colleges control over where and when learners are assessed;
  • Provides consistency across schools and colleges
  • It uses questions similar to those already used in exams;
  • Offers learners and centres a clear basis on which to appeal results.

Qualifications Wales is working on plans with fellow regulators in England and Northern Ireland for how vocational qualifications serving the three nations will be awarded next year and has also offered the Minister advice.